Art Relay: From Workshop to Exhibition

As you might remember, I’ve started a great new job at Towner in Eastbourne. It’s a contemporary art museum on the South Coast of England and I’ve been hard at work in the Learning Department. This week, we’ve had our Easter Holiday events for the kids: a series of workshops collectively known as Arts Relay.

The premise was simple: over the 5 days, a series of Artist Educators would build on the previous day’s work, culminating in a very brief but spectacular exhibition of the children’s work. Well, we like to think so anyway.

And so, after a week of making, looking, cutting, sticking, building, creating, and generally having fun, our work is done. Needless to say, the grown ups are *exhausted*.

Karma Chameleon Kaleidoscope

The work began on Monday, with the children making all sorts of optical devices. These were to be used later in the week to capture images and inspire the next group of children with their creations.

Once a few of these were constructed, certain  issues arose. Key amongst them -for me anyway- was, what is the plural form of Camera Obscura? Just adding an ‘s’ to the end seemed wrong and ‘Camerae Obscurae’ comes across as overly pompous and possibly grammatically incorrect. Forgive me, my Dead Language skills are a bit rusty…mea culpa?

Kaleidoscopes, periscopes and the odd camera obscura
Kaleidoscopes, periscopes and the odd camera obscura

They do actually work though! And that’s the main thing when it comes to stuff like this! Some of the kids took the idea of ‘optical devices’ to another level, and littered in between the ‘scopes and the cameras you can find the odd pair of glasses that inspired this #MuseumSelfie.

Towner Museum Selfie
Towner Museum Selfie

Fetching, no?

Building Buildings

Architecture is a bit of a running theme with the Learning Department at the moment. Not only was day 2 all about exploring buildings, but Towner’s Annual Schools Exhibition explores the built landscape of the South Downs. Day 3 of the relay ran with this theme too, with a group of children building some fantastic stuff. The girl who made this piece was meticulous in her structuring.

3D artwork made by a child
3D artwork made by a child

To put this picture in context: it is attached to the wall, and this picture is of the view *below* the sculpture. On a side note: do you like how tape forms the frame? That was my idea: it’s pretty and practical. Yay!

Day 4 saw further construction work taking place, resulting in a HUGE ABSTRACT PIECE dominating the room.

Arts Relay Exhibition
Arts Relay Exhibition

A fun game to play is seeing just how many triangles you can see in it: there are more than you might imagine…

Go on, have a go!

How many triangles can you see?
How many triangles can you see?

So, yes, above is the exhibition. It look’s lovely, doesn’t it? After a week of making art and a few hours to curate it, the whole relay came together rather nicely.

BUT WAIT! There’s more!

Day 5 was our final leg, our last lap. By now, the metaphorical art baton is slick with metaphorical sweat as we make our metaphorical dash to the pretend finish line. In doing so we come full circle. Optical devices were revisited, but with new features…

Interactive optical devices
Interactive optical devices

For lack of a better term, I’m going to call these ‘interactive optical devices’. Let’s see what happens when you pick up a torch and look inside…

Inside an interactive optical device

Nifty, non?

The exhibition has spilled out beyond the room I pictures above, and the second room is perhaps my favourite bit.

Art Relay 2
Art Relay 2

Projected onto the wall is an animation based on the photographs the children took of each other, and displayed next to this, up there on the platform (in what I like to think is a very David Bowie Is, or even Hollywood Costume way) are the costumes made in the session.

Lacking any kind of Museum Mannequin on which to hang our garments, we used the next best thing: children’s chairs. The effect is quite nice, isn’t it?

So that is our helter-skelter workshop and exhibition, but it’s not around for very long. The work will only be around from 10.00am until 2.00 pm on Saturday 11th April. After two o’clock rolls around, the kids who took part will be taking their art home with them. It’ll be a shame to see the work go, but I think it’s important to give vital display real estate to the people who actively create in your space. In doing so, not only does it actively demonstrate your museum, gallery or whatever as a creative and inspiring place to be; it also shows that you value creativity and more importantly, those who are coming to visit.

As we were putting the finishing touches to the Art Relay exhibition, one little boy dressed as Batman had a bit of an accidental Private View. This is what he had to say about the whole thing:



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