I had a busy run up to the festive period, making artists out of nursery children, a group from Open Age, and also the general public at the V&A.
On the 19th and 20th November 2014, I held a film screening and paper folding workshop at the Museum. The entrance to the Architecture Gallery at the V&A has a classic marble staircase. It echoes to the sound of history. Visitors approaching the space would have heard sounds and voices of a film programme – more details of which you can find on my own blog.
Later in November, I returned to Nursery for a week that I worked with over the summer. No ordinary nursery as St Anne’s is one of the oldest in London established in 1908. It is conveniently sited just at the end of the road where I have my community artist studio. Also chiming with the themes of my residency, the nursery is going to amalgamate next year with Avondale Park school and will move into a brand new building. The listed building they are vacating will probably be converted into flats in due course.
What an experience and many thanks to all the staff and children. The 3-5 year old’s were delightful and very engaging. They coped well with my ambitious programme of inter-related art: drawing, painting, playing with an architectural model, watching short films, making houses and tower blocks from paper. The emphasis was on being creative and having fun.
Photo of the nursery children © Paul Sanders
Here are four things I learnt from the children.
1. Little hands, big hearts.
In preparing material, I had not factored in the tiny hands of the children. Tearing a piece of paper was not as easy for some as I had imagined. Art can be hard work and physical.
2. We need to learn how to draw a house.
I had naively assumed that the children would already be able to draw an outline of a house. As if this was somehow programmed in their DNA. No. They had to learn to connect lines that would form a wall, roof, door, windows and finally a house. This is where tracing or transparent sheets come in handy.
3. Practice makes perfect
We would often start each session by returning back to basics. How to fold a paper once, twice and then open up to discover a sheet with four folds. How these could be bent in a variety of ways to create structures. Where to cut a door? The slightly more tricky way of cutting a window. Practice, almost perfect.
I look forward to returning back to St Anne’s over the coming months. The completed cityscape will feature in my end of residency display at the V&A Museum from 6-8th February 2015.
Nearly forgot to mention that the nursery children also took part in a recent unveiling of art work at the building site of More West. Over the summer, I had worked with other artists and children in producing two of the display panels. Great to see these finally in situ.
© Constantine Gras
More West is the first housing development in this area of North Kensington since the social housing of the 1960s-70s. It is building onto the pre-existing Silchester Estate and is incorporating Frinstead House, a twenty-floor high rise. It is an indication of how development will take place in the future. This Peabody housing consists of 112 flats with mixed social and market tenure. As community artist, I am very interested in how this development will change the area and what type of community is forming here. These formed the basis of some of my questions to Joanna.
Lastly, I invited some members of the local Open Age group to see the the wonderful Constable exhibition. They then created a panoramic drawing and Myrna Shoa made this short film about the experience.
January is my last official month as the Community Artist in Residence, and the project will culminate in a weekend event at the V&A on the 7th and 8th Februrary, which all are welcome to attend.