Celebration : Session eight with everyone who could make it!

We had a delightful, close group celebration in the Boardroom at Springhill. A temporary exhibition was assembled to show a selection of works produced during the project all together in one space. It was also an opportunity for all to see and enjoy their achievements, exchange stories and give mutual thanks in a relaxed, safe space.

Beautiful food was provided by the Nanna Mexico mobile facility, for a Burritos feast served to us no less, than by owner, Luis. It was great to see the van parked up front of the house, but out of full sight to avoid temptation and tantalisingly smells drifting across the huts. Just to seal the Burritos bargain, DrawingConnections tokens were exchanged to generate a ‘healthy’ Christmas’ Chocolate Coin reserve for Luis, who enthused about taking part and ‘returning to the NannaMexico roots’.

 

As the afternoon closed, additional feedback was shared, with repeated thanks and  gifts, irrespective of people’s Religious stance at this time of giving. We now look forward to seeing one another at the Radzinowicz Library exhibition, January 2019 (closing mid March)!

Hope to see some of you there, join us from 2pm Wednesday 30th January 2019, email: crimlibd@hermes.cam.ac.uk if you wish to attend then, or at a later date.

 

“Life is like a photograph: you take a negative and develop it in to something beautiful” Session Seven, with Wig Sayell

It’s like the night before Christmas, as I write this blog before our final session tomorrow. I’m full of excitement and a little apprehension, but to be honest, that is how it goes most weeks; ‘will it be as good as last week’; ‘what if I forget…’ etc. At the end of the day however, week on week, one of the most consistent things has been that no-matter-what, everyone pulls together to make the session work. Every week it is great, never the same as the previous week, but always good in its own way.

 

The quote in the title is some feedback from the session we had with Wig Sayell last Wednesday, 5th December. Working quite literally through the lens of Photography. Considering perspective and composition. Reflecting on the session now, I can honestly say, it was incredible; in spite of wet weather, we achieved so much and I found a renewed sense and belief in the work we are doing.

Experimenting with slow shutter speeds in the woods and by the pond, albeit damp; drawing with seaside objects in pencil and chalk and on the light box. The pictures speak for themselves, but with a fabulous mobile printer we made proper photographs and I regret didn’t make as many with my pad.

We were joined by collleagues from Cambridge, a former student now working at HMP Huntercombe and Caroline who is supporting us with some formal research of the project in the Spring of 2019.

But for now, we have the celebration.

Tomorrow, 12th December 2018 a small group of us will acknowledge the journeys we have made independently and collectively. The discoveries we have made about ourselves and other people, recognising that more connects us than separates us and that through creativity we walk a path towards positivity, joy and peacefulness.

 

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‘Stars from Earth’ : Session Six, Willow Art with Hazel Godfrey

Session Six took another turn on the journey that is DrawingConnections; this week through the thoroughly engaging and enjoyable activity of willow weaving with the captivating Hazel Godfrey.  Hazel’s knowledge of her craft, it’s history and especially bringing resources grown herself, contributed to making this a thoughtful and productive session for all participants.

 

Most people started by making stars, some got to grips with it straight away, and some well, it took us a couple of attempts! Once, the basic frame was established though, there was no stopping people!

 

Once the basic form was established, people filled their stars in various and creative ways. Then feeling comfortable with their newly established skills, some went on to create trees, or explore new and imaginative shapes. Hazel commented herself on the imagination of participants in this group, and how those unfamiliar with the material demonstrated to her new ways to push the medium that she had not perhaps considered.

 

 

‘Words are Love, Words are Life’ : Session Five, Creative Writing with Rebecca Lindum Greene

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‘The curious incident of the Pheasant in the classroom’, he was very inquisitive …last week it was dogs running around the field… incidentally, we named him Pentagon (as we were sat round a five sided table) he was stunningly beautiful, with attitude.

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Our Creative Writing session with ‘Word Games’, such as Rebecca Lindum Greene’s ‘PoeticalConsequences’, broke the ice. Feedback titles from Participants – ‘Words are love, words are life’; ‘Poetic Justice’; ‘Togetherness’ are an example of those given by participants at the end of the session today.

 

 

It was dynamic, stretching across a variety of emotions and challenging each and everyone of us, in many ways:

Firstly, for Rebecca LG, who until now as convener of the project had been managing the sessions, changed her role and became the Artist, letting go of the reigns to allow Hector to take charge of the class. Which he did with great success.

 

 

Engaging in new activities which some were not necessarily comfortable with was troubling for some, for many writing itself presented physical and mental barriers; a Prison based participants, who has been leading Yoga sessions with staff led a brief mindfulness activity, which was thoroughly beneficial to many of us there. Then we were joined by the resident Pheasant who was interested in participating. However, we all overcame our personal challenges and in the end it proved to be hugely rewarding. In the words of Hector –

I’d just mention that, in spite all the self-banning /censorship that everyone started with, such as “I’m not a good writer” or “I’m not that creative”, they all managed to produce a fantastic collaborative poem at the end of the session. Some of the participants thought their sentence wasn’t going to fit anywhere within the group, but they all ordered the individual inputs to make sense of it in a fantastic creative way. I’m really impressed at the quality achieved today and the merit they all deserve. Thank you all for participating and making this session possible. 

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 The above poems came about following a couple of rounds of Poetical Consequences (which resulted in ridiculous, but amusing outcomes),  the group were asked to write down their Five favourite things. Once done, we went round the room and shared our personal choices; after some discussion everyone was asked to write a line or two independently, and hand the final lines on a piece of paper. Collected together, the lines were then divided at random in to two piles.

The group then separated in half, each group encouraged to work together to arrange the lines in to the preferred order. Et voila, the two masterpieces above (and typed below):

Spiderwebs covered with dew on misty mornings 

In the countryside is where I find myself again,

To regain my thoughts…

To heal my heart…

Dreaming is a big part of me,

It’s who I am,

More than less of half of me

Sleep is love

Sleep is life

Stars so needed so hope giving

The awkwardness is broken by laughter

As walls are broken and light shines through.

 

. ** X * … : .**. … * .. . Xx … ** .. .. : * X ** … **

 

Money, money, money

Is so funny

Happiness is sharing

Whatever that may be

Family are the best

They bring me happiness

Close your eyes and fly away

To where your dreams can run and play

Space, bright stars dark sky, moon shining 

 

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‘Discovering a new Technique and a Sense of Peace’ : Session Four, ‘Linolicious’ Art with Alexandra Buckle

It is worth noting that two of the expressions in the title for this session, are extracted from feedback from our last session, Lino Art with the exceptional, Alexandra Buckle.
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We have now reached the mid way point of the Drawing Connections …at the edges eight week sessions delivery! However, many weeks have gone in to making the project a reality. This year the preparation for the project has been eased for me, by having Hector Garay who is a Lecturer at Banbury and Bicester College Art Faculty, as my co-facilitator.

As with previous weeks, I will write a little more and share pictures about our session last week, but before I do, I would like to share Hector words, which he has agreed to contribute to the blog:

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I’ve been lucky to experience Drawing Connections from both sides, as a participant last year and now as a co-facilitator, and I can see in my students now a similar evolution to that which I went through last year as a participant. 

The positive feedback I’m getting from them reveals that all potential concerns and initial prejudgments seem to dissapear once the activity has started and they all engage in drawing, linocutting or clay modeling. It makes them feel we’re all in the same boat, creating something for a common end and that we are all going through the same concerns as a group.

And it happened last year in my group, we all agreed we felt insecure in front of a blank piece of paper every time we start a session, fear of being unable to create something good, or simply being prejudged by others for our creations were (and remain?) constant concerns. But as last year, we are also aware that this is a human natural response and that this is a commonly shared feeling by the rest of the participants too.

At the end of the session they are all willing to come back to repeat the process the next week. 

I feel each session we deliver is helping the group to grow and I mean not only in developing their artistic skills. 

Week after week a sense of community is developed and consolidated, as both students and residents are getting more confortable in this social environment.

I’ve noticed how people are interacting now with each other, in a more relaxed and natural way, and as the program goes on the virtual boundaries between “we” and “them” are blurring.

They all are discovering different ways of expressing and communicating through Art while learning essencial values to grow as individuals.

From my personal and professional experience I can tell this type of project is essential not only as part of any resettlement program but also as a fantastic environment to apply different pedagogies and educate in social values.

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Thank you Hector 🙏🏻 And all that said, I believe that just leaves me to publish more images from the fourth session, after all, a picture speaks a thousand words…

One participant explained that her work, the purple dress print above will go towards her fashion module of the foundation course.

While another participant worked up her Yuletide design (below), to great effect:

 

The fifth session will be led by myself, Rebecca L Greene We will be exploring the practice of creative writing. Writing prose and poetry has long been a practice of mine, starting significantly for me when my poem dedicated to the souls who lived and worked in the trenches of WWI was published in the school annual magazine (back in 1993!) after we had been studying it in History. Anyway, more next post on that…

Let there be Light and ‘Pots of Joy’ : Session Three, with Will Lehmann

This afternoon our session was led by Banbury & Bicester College Pottery Tutor, William Lehmann, it was thoroughly enjoyable and in spite of some initial reservations, once immersed in the environment it was enjoyed by all present.

Will demonstrated the making of a thumb pot, in which to store water during the project, then from that point we set about building ‘coil pots’, but not as you know it. Have a look…

After creating ‘sausages’ of clay, using a toothbrush and water we created texture on the edges, this helped to key the pieces together with slip when we wrapped them round… and now for the coil pots…

 

The next experiment, was layering ‘plates’ of clay and using embossed wallpaper, beautiful patterns. Sometimes, sculpting shapes and creating vessels of extraordinary imagination.

 

 

Now the pots and objects have been formed, they have gone to Banbury & Bicester college for firing, once biscuit fired they will be glazed and refined at 600 degrees C.

We can’t wait to see the finished result… look out for the pictures in 3-4weeks time.

In the meantime we came out of the session to the last vestiges of golden Autumn sunlight, kissing the horizon. #HappyDiwali!

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All Hallows’ Eve; Exploring through Drawing with our Non Dominant Hand – our second session led by Manuela Hübner

 

The sun came out, which since changing the clocks back, is as ever a blessing. The extraordinary Manuela Hübner  delivered an encouraging and thought provoking introduction to herself, her work as an artist and the journey that got her to the place she is now. This is an example of the work Manuela produced when I first met her;

German by birth, Manuela has worked as a translator in editing, spending inordinate amounts of time working at a computer screen. Ten years of this career almost broke her, but in spite of two severe breakdowns, several months incapacitated, creativity kept her from drowning. Discovering that she was unable to fulfill her creative need with her dominant hand, exploration of her ambidextrous ability and continual practice led to creativity, far beyond her previous dominant hand ability.

 

Now two years since her #LeftTurn she has been working on a series called Hypnos, the exhibition for which opens soon, in Cambridge. Details below, but here’s a taste of that work for now…

In order: The Convalescent, 4 AM (knows all my fears) & Balm of Hurt Minds

Working in soft (chalk) pastels, Charcoal, pencils and ink, to start everyone found something within the room to inspire them to draw, as it was Halloween pumpkins were in ample supply, plants within the room and people were all attempted in a quick sketch, with our customary, or dominant hand.

 

 

After a break, Manuela encouraged the group to explore working with the non-dominant hand. In some cases attempting to use the sugar paper, circle masks to push the drawing pencils through in an attempt to ‘blind draw’; concealing the image as it is drawn to reduce the likelihood of people bringing a halt to the activity, because of preconceived  perceptions of ‘good drawing’.

 

We also talked about Serendipity, the happy accidents, which oftentimes without intention, present a simple, but beautiful outcome:

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Hypnos

A series of mixed media paintings revolving around sleep, insomnia, dreams, the subconscious, night time… and their significance for our existence.

15 – 24 November 2018

Makers’ Gallery, 3-4 Hope Street Yard, Cambridge CB1 3NA (map)

Opening night: Thu 15 November 5.30 – 8pm

Opening times:
Thu 15, Fri 16: 11am – 6pm
Sat 17: 11am – 5pm
(Sun 18, Mon 19: closed)
Tue 20, Wed 21, Thu 22: 11am – 6pm
Fri 23, Sat 24: 11am – 4pm