Gower landscape

Our Gower Project Walk 1 – Reviewing the Walk

The “Our Gower” project, organised by with the Nature Conservation Team in the City and County of Swansea, involves more people than myself. There are Years 8 and 9 pupils from four different schools working with seven people from different organisations plus the school teachers to experience four of the wild outdoor environments of the Gower Peninsula in Wales.

Out in the mist

Tim Orell from the Nature Conservation Team is working with Gower Unearthed, Nature Days,  and  plus writers Emily Hinshelwood and Helen Nicholas to give the pupils an outdoor experience they won’t forget.Continue reading

Across the marshes

Project Walk 1 – Returning to Weobley Castle

After exploring and recording their reaction to the salt marshes on this project walk, we all returned to Weobley Castle to eat our sandwiches in the dry before setting off for another Gower environment.

Weobley Castle

The views from the castle across the marshes are excellent and if the mist and rain were wet, they also added a timeless atmosphere to the place. Though some were more wet than others, everyone was happy to carry on.

Project Marsh Walk Soundscape

muddy marsh track

My Walk this Week – Our Gower Project Walk 1, Salt Marsh

My walk this week follows on from the project recce walk I posted about at the end of September. That was the recce – for the real walk we had to change the route as the ground underfoot had become non-negotiable for walking with a group following high tides and wet weather.

Salt Marshes

And the wet weather was a big part of the walk experience for the pupils we were taking out to experience the wonderful expanse of the salt marshes of the Loughor Estuary and Burry Inlet on the North Gower coast in Wales. Starting at Weobley Castle where they produce the delicious salt marsh lamb, everyone donned the wellington boots provided for them.Continue reading

My Walk this Week – Culture, Classical and Concrete

My walk this week takes a tour around the classical and concrete block of cultural, educational and municipal buildings in the centre of Cardiff, Wales. Amgueddfa in Welsh or museum in English, this first image shows a segment of the display block alongside the National Museum of Wales which currently shows the banner for the Arts Mundi 7 exhibition. This is a biannual international art exhibition which we have seen since it started 14 years ago. The exhibition has one of the largest prizes in the art world (£40,000).

Started in Cardiff, it is a an event of which Wales can be justly proud. It ends in cardiff on 26th February and I will be trying to get to see it for a fourth time before that. John Akomfrah is the justifiable winner on this occasion but the whole exhibition, while being largely video based, is well worth giving the time to tour fully.

Amgueddfa / Museum

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A Lattice of Branches

As I wandered along the twisting footpath behind York University on my walk this week the sun slipped lower and provided a wonderful yellow as the backdrop to a lattice of branches in the trees lining the path. There were many other busily patterned views on my walk around the campus lake with the hanging branches of weeping willows creating natural veils against the water or the network of fine limbs and twigs od silver birch against the fading sky.

sunset and tree silhouettes

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Josef Herman Schools Award 2014 Exhibition

The Josef Herman Schools Award is an annual project hosted by the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru which employs different artists each year to work with four South Wales primary schools. This year the Foundation is working with the Tate on a two-year project called Mining Josef Herman; part of a Transforming Tate Britain: Archives and Access programme.

The children enjoyed a promenade performance by Lighthouse Theatre followed by a series of drawing workshops with me in school and in Ystradgynlais, where Herman lived for 11 years. We worked with iPads and traditional drawing materials.

The children researched selected works by Herman provided by the Tate Gallery, London, and made presentations which were recorded on iPads. The exhibition features a selection of their drawing on paper and two TV screens showing both their presentations and animations of the iPad drawings they produced. The exhibition is at The Welfare in Ystradgynlais and will continue until mid September.

Josef Herman schools award exhibition

Josef Herman schools award exhibition

Josef Herman schools award exhibition

Josef Herman schools award exhibition

Josef Herman schools award exhibition

Josef Herman project logos

Looking Seeing Drawing

I am currently working on two drawing based projects. The first is the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru Schools Award Project 2014. The focus of my part in this project, apart from Josef Herman, is drawing – more specifically, drawing and digital media (iPads). See below for examples on video from this project.

The second is a research project run by Cathy Treadaway with CARIAD at Cardiff Metroplitan University – Centre for Applied Research in Inclusive Arts and Design.

Both projects fit well with my approach to drawing. Drawing is about looking and understanding. By observing the things around us (or within ourselves) and transferring that observation to the drawing medium, we can understand and appreciate more of what we observe. For this to happen we must look, look and see. The more we look, the more we see, the better we understand. The deeper our understanding of the world around us, in my view, the closer we come to balance within that world.

Our understanding of drawing has widened in recent decades. The traditional techniques of pencil or charcoal on paper (amongst others) have been augmented. My own drawing used often to be charcoal on paper (a medium I love). These days I think of some of the work I do with wire and weave, as drawing – it is a way of working out ideas in my head that need a means of expression. The full expression, however, does not appear until a finished piece is produced. The “sketchbook” I took with me recently to Crickhowell, to show my tapestry workshop participants, was a table full of bits of weaving and wire, three dimensional trials and experiments – there was no paper.

When producing my StillWalks videos, the first step (most of the time) is to carry out a recce walk. I don’t take my cameras and only take photos on my iPhone. I think of this as drawing. It is my first sketch of the environment where, on production day, I will gather the content for the finished StillWalks video.

The digital medium element of the Josef Herman project is the iPad. All of the schools I am working with use iPads in their classrooms and so were familiar with them. They were less familiar with using them for drawing. However, David Hockney, through the use of his iPad, has shown the world a good example of the widening array of methods to record our observations and express our imagination and understanding.

Below are some examples of drawing by 9 and 10 year old children based on Josef Herman’s work. The children modelled as figures from Herman’s works and drew each other on both paper and iPads.

Sounding Out Colour and Texture – imagination and a tapestry weaving workshop

A few weeks ago I took a tapestry weaving workshop over the weekend for the Crickhowell Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers. They had asked me if I could do a version of my workshop “Sounding out Colour and Texture”.

tapestry weaving workshop

The workshop focus was sound and the intention was to help everyone to develop ideas for tapestry weaving by using a medium that may not have occurred to them previously. It wasn’t going to be possible in the time allowed to produce finished tapestries but we were able to experiment with different techniques and materials as a means of interpreting different aspects of sound.

The language used in describing sound relates very well to the language used in the visual arts and crafts. I am not talking of the technical terms connected to audio and tapestry weaving, but rather the interpretive, emotional terms used. Colour and texture, rhythm and melody.

We often hear the term “the tapestry of life” – the wide range of techniques and materials it is possible to use within tapestry weaving make it possible to represent any number of aspects of our emotional and physical lives and sound can be an excellent starting point for exploring those possibilities.

In these workshops I would also ask people to close their eyes and imagine what colour a sound might be or what it would feel like in their hands if they could grab a hold of it.  The sound editing program I use, Adobe Audition, can show us the wave form of the sound and it can show us the “shape” of the sound in the spectral display, but it cannot tell us its texture and the colour it shows is only that selected by the user in the program’s preferences.

This is where the imagination comes in and helps us to develop the designs we may use to present an interpretation of a subject that could be said to have an extra dimension to it.

 

apart from looking at how different sounds appear visually on the spectral display of an editing program like Adobe Audition, 

Josef Herman Schools Award Project 2014

Art education is wide ranging and there are many different approaches to it, but at its core is learning to see. The primary and most effective way to learn to see is to draw. This, surely, must be at the beginning of every artist’s career – i.e. the moment, as children, we pick up a pencil, crayon, brush and make a mark with it.

Last week I was working with the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru on their 2014 Schools Award project. Following a tour of Ystradgynlais with Josef (1911 – 2000) played by actor Adrian Metcalfe and the “Clerk to the District Council” played by Sonia Beck, both from Lighthouse Theatre in Swansea, we ran workshops in drawing. We viewed the Foundation’s collection of Herman’s works in “The Welfare” and referenced a set of images provided by the Tate Museum for our drawing. We used both traditional drawing materials (pencil and charcoal on paper) and iPads. Sketchbook Pro has the facility to record the drawing you do on the iPad and you can see a couple of examples from the children at the bottom of this post.

Sonia invited us all back to the year 1954 when Josef Herman lived and worked in Ystradgynlais (for 11 years). She and Adrian did an excellent job of drawing us into believing that they were the real people which confused some of the children as they knew that he had died in 2000!

Adrian Metcalf as Josef Herman

Adrian Metcalf and Sonja Beck

Ystradgynlais

Looking Josef Herman artworks

Drawing workshop