Roots in the Community (Jan 2016)
Opening night: 6.30pm – 9pm 27th – Jan 2016 – running for 2 Weeks
Opening: 26th Jan – 6st Feb 2016
Venue: High Street Arcade, Cardiff
Finished Documentation Video
As part of The Creative Exchange Group I will be taking part in a collaborative exhibition in High Street Arcade, Cardiff. I decided after the success of the “Remember Nature Project” that I wanted to take it further by moving it into a more public space as apposed to the safety of the Art School walls. The submission is going to be a participatory piece; I am hoping to create an environment within the exhibition that invites members of the public, local school children, local Cub Scouts, and fellow artists to make trees from recycled materials to create a city forest. I want participants to consider the tree as an extension of themselves and their relationship with nature. The aims of this project is to promote an interest in nature, highlight the important symbiotic relationship that humans have with trees, and create or enhance their love of the natural world in a creative playful environment.
I also intend to play forest sounds within the space to create a more immersive atmosphere. I will photograph the expanding forest as documentation.
Workshop with Children
I would like to approach a local school to see if they would like to get their children involved in this art project. I propose to run a workshop within the school inviting the children to create their own trees that will be put on show at the exhibition. During the workshop I will endeavor to talk with the children about their experiences with nature and talk about the native trees of the UK. I am hoping that by interacting with the children in a creative playful environment that I can share my knowledge and interest in nature; highlight the important symbiotic relationship that humans have with trees and create or enhance their love of the natural world.
I hope to document this workshop through photography and create a portfolio for both the school and the exhibition. Full recognition will be given to the school and all children and teachers who participate in the exhibition. When the exhibition is over I will return to each child its tree with a photograph of their tree hanging in the exhibition and one hopefully with them standing beside it from the workshop.
How to continue after the Event?
I would also like to continue the experience and continue the dialogue so I will be giving the participants vegetable seeds to grow. I will be inviting them to share their growing adventures on Twitter using the hashtag #IGrewThisCardiff
Find out more here: Grow Your Own
I also have a few ideas of how I would like to share the participants words and stories.
- Leaves, twigs and branches (Decided these were a bad idea as they would rot over the 2 weeks)
- Print out about trees in the UK – With different leaf patters that the children can copy -( used my iPad instead so as to avoid using unnecessary paper)
- Wave files of recorded forest sounds (For exhibition)
- Speaker and mp3 player
- Recycled Materials
- Wool, scissors, tape, paint, glue, markers and paper
- Table and Chairs
- Sturdy String to hang trees from and clothes pegs or clips
- Photos from a visit to a local woodland
- Vegetable seeds with instructions
Update – 17th Jan 2016
Forest Walk near Castell Coch
On Sunday the 17th of January I traveled to the forest area behind Castell Coch in Tongwynlais in South Wales. I wanted to immerse myself into the wooded area to get a sense of the space that I was tying to recreate. I wanted to feel nature around me. I miss living in an area surrounded by nature. Living in the city it is difficult be in nature. There are some lovely parks in Cardiff but they just do not feel the same as being in a forest. Whilst this particular forest is managed and made accessible for people it still feels closer to a natural woods than the maintained parks within Cardiff city.
In the forest I tried to be silent as I walked through, listening to the sounds of birds, leaves rustle above my head and below my feet. Every now and then you would hear animals dart away into the undergrowth or up into the trees, both of us caught by surprise. I love the smell of the rich damp earth and the crisp cool air. It is always a bit cooler in the dimness of the forest. I was really lucky because there was a light defusing mist all around, and it gave the forest a magical ethereal feel, almost like time did not exist. Trees softened to grey in the distance….sounds also seemed muted by it (This could have been my imagination).
I did try to record the sounds, however the forest was very quiet and my companion was very noisy, one a symptom of the winter and the other a symptom of a chatterbox 🙂
I didn’t realise that this forest was had a sculpture trail. I was surprised by the first carved wooden sculpture that we came across. According to the plaque we found later, children who go around the forest have to create a story together about the magical creatures that they found along the way. I felt that this trail reverberated exactly what I was trying to do with my work. A participatory walk in the woods that relied on the creativity and imagination of children (and adults) to make the magic happen. This creates a special bond with the people to the this natural environment. It also fills their memory banks with wonderful memories of the real and the imagined events. These memories can be called upon in later years nostalgically or shared with others.
Early morning in Llandaff fields – I love to join the 5K Park Run on Saturday mornings. No matter how many times I do this run I feel refreshed by the parks beauty. Every day is a different picture as seasons change. The Blackweir is spectacular, particularly after a heavy nights rain. Even though this is not an art event, it is a participatory one. Strangers encourage each other as all levels run together all the while surrounded by such magnificent splendour. Life is Art!
‘Oscar Wilde’s essay from The Decay of Lying 1889 – “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”.
Update – 21st Jan 2016
I have been extremely lucky to engage the help from Y2s and Y4s St Albans RC Primary School, Tramorfa and the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts from the 44th Cardiff Scout troop. I will be running workshops on the 29th with both these groups. I am really excited to be able to engage with these young people. I can’t wait to see what wonderful creations they will make for the Exhibition space. This is always my favourite part of running these workshops, everyone has their own interpretations and understandings. I feel each representation is an insight into the person making it even if I don’t understand it. I also feel that by working together in a creative environment we can share experiences, I believe shared experiences help form bonds. That is why I want this project out in the community, maybe by inviting people into this space we can create bonds. I also hope the Scouts will earn their Artist Badge for this.
Update – 23rd – 24th Jan 2016
Setting up the space – blank canvas. I have to say the place was a mess! It needed a lot of cleaning, so I brought in a hover an we got stuck in. I also needed to cover in a lot of areas with fabric to hide out of bounds areas. It was looking good when we finished.
It really is a fantastic space – street facing with a lot of interesting nooks and features. Getting Excited!!!
Started putting the work up – My daughter Amy came along and helped out. She even build the first tree.
I did give Amy a hand cutting out her leaves as she had a broken little finger from an accident earlier in the week. It was a lovely way of spending time together especially after the week we had spent in A&E
Update – 26th Jan 2016
The space is looking good. Today we opened the exhibition with the official opening tomorrow night. There was only one visitor while I was invigilating on the early shift. I expected this, especially as it was raining heavily all day. I did start to build my own tree in the space.
Update: 27th Feb Open Day
Update: 29th January – Workshops with St Albans (Yr 4s and Y6s) and 44th Cardiff Scouts
Workshops were busy but fun – I was amazed by the childrens’ enthusiasm and teamwork. During the workshops we talked about native and non-native trees. The children were surprised by how some really familiar trees have come from other countries, planted by returned explorers. We also talked about all the amazing things that trees do for us and how we need them to survive. The children shared stories about times spent in forests, parks and even their own back gardens. I recorded these stories and currently considering what to do with them. I would like to share these stories with the wider public, perhaps in the local parks.
I am delighted to see that the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers will get 5 badges for participation on the workshop.
At the end of the workshops each child was given a packet of vegetable seeds to grow at home with the help of a guardian. On the packet of seeds there is a link to my blog that contains the growing instructions. The packed and the blog asks that the guardian or child Tweet images of their growing experience with the hashtag #IGrewThisInCardiff. This was my way to extend the workshop further afield and also to be able to evaluate the impact of the sessions on the groups.
Find out more here: Grow Your Own
I am eagerly awaiting their Tweets.
The children were really appreciative and came up and thanked me under their own direction. They were all so lovely.
St Albans RC Primary School
44th Cardiff Beavers/Cubs/Scouts
I have to give a special thanks to all the teachers, Mr James and Lisa, and also the Scout leaders, Joan, Vanessa and Mark. Thank you for allowing me to work with your groups.
Update 30th February – Forest in The City
The seeds have sprouted into a wonderful colourful forest full of memories, sounds and nostalgia. The irony of the space is that if we do not start looking after the planet that these reproductions and memories are all that we will have left to connect with.
Wales Art Review of our Exhibition – This project is included
Cardiff Made TV – This local TV station interviewed us about the show. My interview is at 11.01 mins in.
Illustration Radio –