Artist Residency Day 13 at Bergby Konstcenter, Sweden.

In the last few days whilst my ‘Häxors Trosor’ exhibition has been open, many of my Swedish visitors have also been keen to make their ‘Green Pledge’. During this time I have also been busy making more from the list of pledges I brought from Newcastle.

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Visitors to Bergby Konstcenter making green pledges.

I have been using local resources to make some of the pledges, including milk cartons, plastic bread and chocolate wrappers. Helen and John the artists who run Bergby Konstercenter have also made a pledge to be hung with the others.

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‘I am making a compost in my garden’.

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‘Here I write my solemn pledge to grow and eat organic veg.’

Visitors to the exhibition seemed to really enjoy looking at the craftsmanship in the environmental textile pennants, from the heavy embroidery to intensively worked beading and the sentiment in the poetry. It was extremely heartening to hear the very sincere feedback.

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A local bee keeper and her daughter looking at the ‘ Life giving bee’ embroidery.

Talking to the visitors, asking them to also make a ‘green pledge’ has made me really think about taking this project so much further. The exhibition of the work produced during the residency is going to Gateshead Old Town Hall in September and October but I feel I would like to continue encouraging people to make pledges, so that the number of pledges made grows past the 50 we have so far.

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‘I will eat less dairy and milk.’

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‘I will recycle more’.

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‘I will try to raise awareness with my friends about the issues of sea creatures’, by Rosie age 13.

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Visitors to the exhibition.

If you would like to be a part of this project, please get in touch. You can just write a green pledge which I will make for you or you can make your own to form part of the growing numbers of green pledges made so far.

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REWIND: Ravenswood Primary ‘School Values’ window hangings.

In the Spring and Summer term of 2012, I was asked to work with the children of Ravenswood Primary School to create a series of banners which illustrated the ‘school values’ and to be hung in the large windows of their dinner hall. ALL the children in the school, from Nursery to Year 6 were involved in the design of the banners and painting them – well over 500 children! It was a fantastic and exciting project to be part of.

All ten window banners, hanging in the dinning hall.

All ten window banners, hanging in the dinning hall.

Every year group was allocated a school value and in their lessons, they came up with a design for it – often linked to areas of the curriculum they were working on.

'R' for 'Respect'.

‘R’ for ‘Respect’.

I transferred the children’s designs onto cotton fabric, 2 metres by 80 cm to fit the windows. Then every child in school from that year group, would spend some time painting on their hanging.

'A' for 'Achievement'.

‘A’ for ‘Achievement’.

Using the mid weight cotton and COLOURTEX by Specialist Crafts, we were able to create a ‘stained glass window’ effect.

'V' for 'Valued'.

‘V’ for ‘Valued’.

As you can imagine, sometimes trying to co-ordinate so many children was a bit tricky but the teachers, classroom assistants and parents all helped to ensure it was a very smooth running project.

'E' for 'Enjoyment'.

‘E’ for ‘Enjoyment’.

'N' for 'Nurturing'.

‘N’ for ‘Nurturing’.

On each of the hangings, the children decided it would be great fun to paint a Raven, a symbol of the school, which they could have fun looking for whilst sitting in the dinning hall eating their lunch.

'S' for 'Self-confidence'.

‘S’ for ‘Self-confidence’.

'W' for 'Working Together'.

‘W’ for ‘Working Together’.

The large textile window hangings, also help to absorb the sound in the dinning hall, so it doesn’t seem so noisy for the younger children.

'O' for 'Opportunities'.

‘O’ for ‘Opportunities’.

'O' for 'Openness'.

‘O’ for ‘Openness’.

Besides the different year groups, some of the school clubs also created their own designs for a ‘school value’. The Drama Club painted the ‘Self-Confidence’ hanging and the School Council design and painted the ‘Openness’ hanging.

'D' for 'Diversity'.

‘D’ for ‘Diversity’.

I must admit, one of my favourite window hangings was by the children in the Nursery. There was approximately 63 children in Nursery at the time and each one choose a butterfly shape then painted it in their preferred colours.

The window hangings are much enjoyed by the children and are a lovely talking point for them, as they are able to remember which elements they painted of the hanging when they were lower down in the school.

This is a detail from the hanging painted by the 63 children in the school nursery. Their school value was about Diversity, so they each painted a butterfly, different in shape and colour. The raven appears on all of the hangings, as it is part of the school insignia and a fun image for the children to find on the hangings whilst eating their school dinners.

REWIND: The Vanity of Small Differences

These photos are from a post I wrote back in 2013 and was posted on my then old ‘Blogger’ site ‘Diary of an Obsessive Creative’. It’s from a very exciting project I was involved in with Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and was funded by the Arts Council. During 2013, Sunderland Museum hosted the fantastic exhibition by Grayson Perry called ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’. The exhibition was the result of a Channel 4 series in which Grayson meet people from different ‘classes’ and looked at what people felt was important to them, their friends and the way they lived their lives.

I worked with three different community groups to create their own hangings in response to Grayson’s work. Each hanging is over 2 metres by 1 metre. Over ten weeks, each group created beautiful and powerful hangings. During this time, many learnt new skills and gained confidence in what they could achieve. It was a wonderful experience for myself, Jennie and Morgan (from Sunderland Museum) as well and it was just great fun!!

This first hanging is by a group of women who had moved to Sunderland recently, from a number of different countries. Each brought to the project imagery from places of worship, cityscapes, their culture and a love of the city which had now become their home: Sunderland. In this hanging, if you know Sunderland, you would recognise the Wearmouth Bridge, the shipyard cranes, the Winter Gardens, the Stadium of Light but the skyline behind is reminiscent of Hong Kong and some of the places of worship represent other towns and cities.

The Arrival at the City of Light

The Arrival at the City of Light

The second hanging was made by a group of young women from Sunderland. I was extremely impressed with how they all became so involved in the project and were very supportive when they were all learning new skills such as beading, embroidery and fabric painting. They all really enjoyed the process of making the portraits and we had such a great time fabric painting then beading/embroidering the biscuits and cakes for the tea party! The theme came from the idea of the ‘Mad hatters tea party’ in Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll actually spent sometime in Sunderland, which just gave more credence to a great idea!

The First Aspirational Tea Party

The First Aspirational Tea Party

The last hanging is by a group of young people who really enjoyed photography as a way of expressing themselves and who they are. The hanging is fabric painted and we drew out images they had photographed, turning their picture into a large set of negatives in the positive. This is such a great bold piece and it really stood out as you came up the stairs of the museum before you went into the gallery where the Grayson Perry tapestries were hanging.

Life Through a Lens: Turning Negatives into Positives.

Life Through a Lens: Turning Negatives into Positives.

The hangings were made using fabric paint, batik, embroidery, photographic transfer techniques and applique. All of the people involved in the projects learnt new skills ‘on the job’ and, as you can see, became very proficient at it!

During this exhibition, I also ran a week of school workshops, a teacher training day and master-classes, exploring the ideas of branding, ‘Tribes’ and identity which Grayson Perry reflects upon in his tapestries.