December 2, 2015
Throughout 2015 I worked on a project with stroke survivors. I ran a set of visual arts workshops and curated the final exhibitions: one at Manchester Central Library, and the other at Manchester Museum. It was a wonderful experience and I feel privileged to have been through the process to help facilitate some of the workshops and to be able to curate the final exhibitions to help to tell these survivors’ stories.
About the project:
The Stroke Association and The University of Manchester ran creative workshops with 15 stroke survivors across a 9-month period in 2015. These focused on creative writing, visual arts and photography. The interactive workshops brought together stroke survivors, artists, filmmakers, clinicians, researchers and students from the University of Manchester and Salford Royal hospital.
Personal and collective stories of life before and after a stroke are told through the survivors’ artistic interpretations. Many of the survivors were shown the brain scan of their stroke. They were talked through their individual scans by leading stroke consultant, Professor Pippa Tyrell and NIHR Clinician Scientist Dr Adrian Parry-Jones, who explained the areas of the brain that were affected by the stroke and answered any questions they had. This was often an emotional moment and many of the survivors used this experience to create artistic responses and explore their feelings towards the journey from having a stroke to the lives they now live.
The Manchester Central Library exhibition, as part of The Manchester Science Festival, gave a more personal insight into a complex and often devastating condition. It is, however, also to show that there is potential for an enriching and positive life after stroke.
The pop-up exhibition and mask-making workshop at Manchester Museum on World Stroke Day was as a result of a special workshop I led during the project. Participants were given a tour of the Museum’s mask collection then they were given coloured tissue paper, glue and scissors to create masks that would reflect different emotions. Masks were made to represent or cover up emotions and also to promote positive emotions.
With thanks to the survivors who created these personal and expressive pieces of artwork:
Peter Osbourne, Keila Moore, Peter Wright, Raymond Garner, Paul Edgerton, Mary Davis, Janette Kirkham, Debbie Concagh, Mark Pizey, George Shone, Janet Stoppard, Carol Banks, Ann Williams, Michaela Holden, Graeme Snell
Also many thanks to the other workshop leaders – Caroline Edge for photography, and Janet Rogerson for creative writing. Special thanks to Joyce Booth and the volunteers from the Stroke Association for helping to coordinate and facilitate all of the workshops, and to Dr Stephanie Snow, who has led the project and is using this as research for her work on documenting the History of Stroke.
A video of the project:
July 31, 2013
End of degree number two! I was lucky to have three pieces in the show; two in the main Interactive Arts show, and one specially commissioned piece by the Manchester School of Art for the roof terrace on the new building.
This year I used Zen poetry as my main influence because its philosophy of constantly asserting the transience of our existence is something I wanted from my artwork. I feel that light has this transient quality through its visibility and invisibility which could then be used to visually activate the meaning of the poetry. With this in mind, I defined my project as creating a modern Zen scroll.
‘Sun Scroll’ is a Zen poem revealed by sunlight. It addresses themes of transience, emphasised by the transient sunlight. The projected words appear differently throughout the day and year depending on the angle of the sun.
‘Leap and the net will appear’ is a Zen saying that I appropriated into a piece of text art activated by light. You know the light’s path but you can’t see it all, requiring you to trust in the leap to the text.
The ‘Sun Bowls’ contain extracts from Zen poems that refer to a transience of existence echoed in the use of glass and light to illuminate the words. The shifting lighting conditions within a room changes the visibility of the words – sometimes readable from above, others from the projection onto the surface below, and occasionally not at all. The bowls are intended to be lived with and viewed over a period of time, becoming part of the owner’s personal context and place.
May 2, 2011
Here is my Luminous Man projected onto a wall. I filmed him before my Creeping Light series but hadn’t got round to doing much with him, he just appeared one day during my initial light film tests and started to dance in front of the camera, swirling around and morphing into different shaped luminous men. He’s a mystical being and has a life of his own even though I technically ‘created’ him. I intend to show the film at my next assessment exhibition, it doesn’t have sound at the moment, but this is something I will work on over the summer.
I have used the still of the luminous man to draw over and to use as a motif over other work – painting, collage and furniture. I think he’s going to become a bit of a muse to me this summer as I develop work around him; I may even get my writing skills back into gear and write a story about him as he fascinates me!
April 27, 2011
In memory of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, Manchester School of Art students went out onto the moors just over Glossop to attempt to fly some kites or similar contraptions. These moors were the very same moors Wittgenstein went as a young man to fly various chemicals at different altitudes in his own home-made kites when he worked as an assistant to science students studying the chemicals properties. The kites for this project were not really to do with his scientific work, but more to be used as a symbol for his philosophical thinking, the flight of the mind, imagination – all of which we are exploring as artists.
My own kite was a mini version of a traditional kite shape, I made it from acetate to withstand the moors’ wind, rather than just tissue paper which I’ve seen other small kites made out of. It did have a beautiful purple tail to but, alas, this came off in my bag. It was quite a lucky thing however, as normally the tail stabilises the kite as it flies, but without it the kite was able to dance around in the wind with a life of its own! Many people tried to capture its dance on film or in photos but most of the time it bounced out of shot, there was only once when I managed to capture it for any real length of time as you can see from the video below.
What happened that day on the moors will be blogged about by many, but the whole experience can never fully be captured. I’m sure that this little dancing kite and it’s reluctance to be captured on film signifies much of what was trying to be achieved; but between the laughter and general mirth of the whole day, I think I’ll avoid labouring the point…
February 21, 2011
Here are some photos of my creeping light; I have also made a short film of the strange creeping movements which I plan to edit to music (I’m still considering the best music to use) and designing possible ways of presenting the work. I find peculiar creatures and people present themselves in the photos which give an eerie quality to the images which I want to exploit with further development.
February 15, 2011
I went out on a rare sunny day to All Saints Park with my lovely Canon camera to practice my photography skills in the outdoors. Amongst a lot of pictures of snuggling pigeons and textured tree bark I came across a little metal pool filled with leaves and water in a hidden memorial part of the park. I delighted in the crisp reflection of the blue sky and trees, it framed that area of sky perfectly and I had to capture it. The resulting image has, I think, a quiet melancholy to it reflected in the deep blue hue of the image and the area it was taken in.
I also found a scruffy abandoned chair with a little puddle on the seat that reflected the sky also, I like the idea of someone being able to ‘sit on the sky’ and think the photo makes for a good visual for this quirky concept.
This effect reminds me of Anish Kapoor’s famous ‘Sky Mirrors’ which I really admire. His work often creates a sense of infinity and illusion, something which I am working around and developing in my other work using light, glass, and now mirrors. My progress on developing these concepts into something more tangible is still in its infancy however.