Seeing through Art: Exhibition Preview

art exhibition preview photo

Exhibition Preview

On September 17th Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind will host an exhibition of hand created costumes and body adornments from the Seeing through Art project. The exhibition will feature works made by visually impaired adults, who realised and extended their intellectual access to making art, influenced by two visits to Nottingham Contemporary, taking part in four days of artist-led workshops and all loved to explain their work through presentations. All participants will be invited to the launch event, a great opportunity to discuss their ideas and meet the volunteers.

The sculptural display will be accompanied by photographic images taken during the project demonstrating the processes and increasingly independent working of the participants. Glass cases will also show work from weekly arts sessions led by the Arts Officer; felt-making, necklaces, stencil and print work, drawing and weave samples.

The exhibition coincides with Eye Health Awareness Week to promote eye sight health:

Did you know?

  • 1.8 million people in the UK are living with sight loss. For 53% of these, a simple sight test and new spectacles could really help
  • A sight test can detect early signs of conditions like glaucoma, which can be treated if found soon enough
  • During a sight test, other health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure may be detected
  • For healthy eyes, eat well, don’t smoke and wear eye protection in bright sunlight

The exhibition launch is Monday 17th September at: NRSB, Ortzen Street, Radford, Nottingham NG7 4BN

Please phone: 0115 9706806 for further details of the exhibition and Eye Health Awareness events in Nottingham.

Close up paper folding

Paper folding or shoulder pads?

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Day Six: Paper crafting arrives in Nottingham

Today saw the final arts workshop of ‘Seeing through Art’ taking place at Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind, with paper craft artist, Katie Stainer. This group has grown to full capacity for the art space at NRSB and is well supported by dedicated volunteers. Once lunch was ordered, the participants experimented with methods of paper folding old paperback books into an array of solid, pleated objects. Time was built into the workshop for some two-dimensional designing and looking at the mannequins in the room.

Again, the group reminded each other of the types of stances and figures they had seen at Nottingham Contemporary and related their design to costume and theatre. The ideas at the beginning vary in detail, some minimal and some ambitious, but as the day progressed the paper shapes being created suggested new body adornments.

There were teams at work in the art space, where ideas are exchanged and developed, ranging from ‘Headless Claudius’ – a play on words, using books to create a Roman costume, a coastal inspired outfit made from shell-shaped paper and an Hawaiian traditional costume. This group worked very quickly to produce a large amount of sculptural work, with an hour spent on making tweaks and fine adjustments with fastenings.

The most rewarding part of the session for everyone was the opportunity to speak to the whole group about their work. People who hadn’t previously engaged in this process, found the courage to discuss their influences and ideas. Well done to these people! Many thanks to the volunteers who supported the visually impaired participants and thanks to Katie for an exciting day of making.

If you are interested in seeing more of Katie’s work, please follow the web links below:

http://www.katiestainer.co.uk/

http://katiestainer.wordpress.com/

Piles of paper folding!

Piles of paper folding!

Eileen is assisted by an NRSB volunteer

Eileen is assisted by an NRSB volunteer

Natasha constructs a complex structure from paper and ribbon

Natasha constructs a complex structure from paper and ribbon

Wendy discusses her design

Wendy discusses her design

Carole building a Headless Claudius costume

Carole building a Headless Claudius costume

Ruth tries out her umbrella, next to the sea shell design costume

Ruth tries out her umbrella, next to the sea shell design costume

The team pose for a well deserved photo shoot!

The team pose for a well deserved photo shoot!

Day Five: Plastic arts workshop in Mansfield

‘Seeing through Art’ has now reached day five, with plastic recycling artist, Anna Roebuck leading the way. The group has grown in size with participants and new volunteers. The Mansfield arts group were really keen to learn the techniques related to plastic design and layering of colour; popular choices being blue, black and yellow contrasting schemes suitable for impaired vision, a range of pinks on a transparent layer and subtle greens to relate to the colours of a road map.

The group has already worked with paper with artist, Katie Stainer, which helped to inform their choices for today’s construction. With the figure sculptures from the Nottingham Contemporary in mind, a range of body adornments and accessories were created ranging from a pleated and plaited belt with matching headdress, a chic array of bags dripping with marbled and textured flowers and a huge butterfly bodice.

The group thoroughly explored the exciting prospects of creating art pieces with plastic bags, stored in huge wire bags, torn and shredded, cut and pressed, fixed and presented.

Many thanks to Anna for an inspiring day and as always many thanks to the team of dedicated, creative volunteers. This element of the project in Mansfield has been funded by Nottinghamshire Arts Fund.

If you wish to see more of Anna’s work please follow the web links below:

http://reform4revive.wordpress.com/

http://themakinghouse.org/

Butterfly wing in pink made by Florence

Butterfly wing in pink made by Florence

Margaret rummages in the plastic bags for hidden treasures

Margaret rummages in the plastic bags for hidden treasures

Janet enjoys building a wire and plastic headdress

Janet enjoys building a wire and plastic headdress

Florence creates folds in the butterfly wing

Florence creates folds in the butterfly wing

Anna assists Jack with some wire work for his top hat

Anna assists Jack with some wire work for his top hat

Flo having a flutter with her butterfly!

Flo having a flutter with her butterfly!

Joyce concentrates on much smaller plastic work

Joyce concentrates on much smaller plastic work

Jack shows off his finished bag, made of many layers of plastic

Jack shows off his finished bag, made of many layers of plastic

Nottinghamshire County Council logo

Nottinghamshire County Council logo

Day Four: Creative paper folding workshop in Mansfield

To bend over or double up so that one part lies on another part, the act or instance of folding, to make compact by doubling, to become folded, crease, pleat, tuck, crinkle, fold

Day Four: Seeing through Art took place in a spacious community venue in Mansfield, where participants were guided through a series of origami processes by ‘papercraft’ artist, Katie Stainer. The focus of her work is to recreate detailed pieces for interiors and body adornments from books; the element of recycling to create individual pieces of art is key to her work. The Mansfield art group are extremely talented and took to the folding processes very quickly and again suprised volunteers with their detailed and ambitious ideas.

Participants were able to relate their ideas to those of Francis Upritchard’s exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary of figures wearing cloaks, scarves and hand-made garments. They made initial drawings onto two-dimensional mannequins supported by the team of volunteers and Katie discussed ideas and materials feasibility. No sooner had the folding begun, the group wanted further ways of folding; as one person told me:

I really love this way of working directly with my hands, I’ve become very adaptable over time with my eye condition

Katie was kept extremely busy, developing more unusual ways to support people’s ideas to create three-dimensional structures that dress a human figure. She produced an interesting range of maps, old sheet music, ribbons and folding dexterity. The main development of structured costume came after a lunch break, when the newly refreshed group began to mass produce beautiful folded paperbacks to make a body cloak, a waist band with contrasting shapes and a flared skirt sewn with ribbon. The group worked collaboratively like a group of fashion designers to pin, comment, change and re-arrange their folded shapes onto their full size mannequins. A boss, director and designer were also elected within the group; it was such an enjoyable day with plenty of laughter!

At the close of the day, the group presented each costume creation to the others, detailing the ideas and construction behind each, with a well deserved round of applause for everyone. Many thanks to the hard-working volunteers today, coming from Nottingham and Sheffield. Your support is very much appreciated.

The whole group working together to fold intricate paper designs

The whole group working together to fold intricate paper designs

The group concentrate on origami folding recycled books

The group concentrate on origami folding recycled books

Janet creating a paper dress from folded maps

Janet creating a paper dress from folded maps

Katie helping Florence attach a folded book to her costume design

Katie helping Florence attach a folded book to her costume design

Margaret attaching paper diamond shapes to the mannequin

Margaret attaching paper diamond shapes to the mannequin

The Mansfield NRSB art group working as a team

The Mansfield NRSB art group working as a team

Florence is supported by her volunteer in creating a complex costume

Florence is supported by her volunteer in creating a complex costume

Janet stands to present her costume to the group

Janet stands to present her costume to the group

Margaret and Joyce discuss their final work of art

Margaret and Joyce discuss their final work of art

Paper folded costume influenced by Francis Upritchard's exhibition

Paper folded costume influenced by Francis Upritchard’s exhibition

Funded by Nottinghamshire County Council

Day Three: Recycling arts at Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind

The Nottingham group of visually impaired clients were lucky enough to take part one of the most inspiring creative workshops today, led by plastics and recycling specialist Anna Roebuck, supported by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. It seems there isn’t anything that Anna doesn’t know about reforming plastic bags into beautiful objects. She presented her own work in the shape of hats, jewellery, light shades and a stunning full size carnival lizard costume!

The participants allowed their ideas to be influenced by the Francis Upritchard exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and decided on theatrical costume ranging from:

a bag that is worn over both shoulders and hangs like a kangaroo pouch at the front of the body, a costume that is full of contrasts – a clown and a business man, a structured cloak that resembles bird wings and a neck ruff

After an informative demonstration of layering coloured and textured plastics to form a flexible sheet, the rest of the morning was taken up with an experimental creation to try out newly learnt skills, followed by tea and biscuits! The workshop sprang into life and ideas for layering plastics continued until the afternoon; then the sculpture and reforming began.

Ambitious ideas for an umbrella was supported by wire, a plastic ruff was sewn together and decorative curls added, a head piece was decorated with flowers and a full size poncho appeared from one flat sheet of fused plastic. The photos below give a visual snapshot of the superb creativity of the group; a huge well done to all involved!

The group working together to create flexible, colourful plastic sheets

The group working together to create flexible, colourful plastic sheets

Erica using textured plastic to create designs

Erica using textured plastic to create designs

Ann using new skills to create plastic flowers

Ann using new skills to create plastic flowers

Wendy made amazing progress layering stripes and contrasting plastics

Wendy made amazing progress layering stripes and contrasting plastics

Anna relates 12 years of recycling arts experience

Anna relates 12 years of recycling arts experience

Flower headband as a work in progress

Flower headband as a work in progress

The poncho created by Rob from recycled plastics

The poncho created by Rob from recycled plastics

Wendy's creation: an Elizabethan ruff with a modern twist

Wendy’s creation: an Elizabethan ruff with a modern twist

The stylish, plastic hand-made umbrella

The stylish, plastic hand-made umbrella

Day Two: Creative Workshop at Nottingham Contemporary

Day Two: Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind art group re-visited Nottingham Contemporary for an inspiring two hour arts workshop led by Jo Dacombe, associate artist at the gallery. This was a group of 10 visually impaired adults, one guide dog and five volunteers; they had previously visited the exhibition. The session began with discussions about the exhibited figures in the gallery space and types of people, how they would hold certain poses and how they could be recognised by these characteristics. The group  came up with some amazing ideas and were keen to use their intellect:

a leader, a thinker, a lost soul, a labourer, a delicately balanced dancer, a swimmer, an anonymous person, an ecstatic person…..

With a ‘secret’ choice of person in mind, the participants worked with wire armatures and flexible, soft clays to present a figure that represented their ideas. Some attached found objects to build up a narrative of lost servicemen and anonymous people, becoming known through the found objects. Balance of the figures was a key element of the three-dimensional figures and structures and as each grew, further wire was added to stop the figures falling. Ingenious wooden tripods were developed by one person and all participants created their own solutions, aided by volunteers.

Throughout the workshop, Jo discussed ideas with everyone and found the participants to be full of creative flair and thinking, each person having a personal creative style. The  workshop was completed with a brilliant group presentation of work accompanied by all their background thinking, how the figures related to the chosen character and how they had tackled the building process. Jo added comments about how some figures looked serene and quiet in thought, whilst some were bold with a definite stance. Everyone deserved the applause they received!

Many thanks to Nottingham Contemporary for the tour and workshop, the feedback that came back was very positive.

On Monday the group in Nottingham begin the first day of their collaboration with artist, Anna Roebuck and the Mansfield group have their first day on Tuesday with artist, Katie Stainer; more posts to follow. Thanks for reading!

Ruth making a figure at Nottingham Contemporary

Ruth making a figure at Nottingham Contemporary

Florence and Jo exchange ideas about the figure sculptures

Florence and Jo exchange ideas about the figure sculptures

Margaret stands to work on her sculpture of a ballerina

Margaret stands to work on her sculpture of a ballerina

Working with wire at the Nottingham Contemporary workshop

Working with wire at the Nottingham Contemporary workshop

Janet creates the features of a three-dimensional face

Janet creates the features of a three-dimensional face

The leader on a throne and red carpet created by Angela

The leader on a throne and red carpet created by Angela

Rob built a wooden structure to support his figure sculpture

Rob built a wooden structure to support his figure sculpture

The group listen to presentations about each figure

The group listen to presentations about each figure

Rob and Pat wait to speak about their works of art

Rob and Pat wait to speak about their works of art

Happiness as Eileen's figure finally stands unaided!

Happiness as Eileen’s figure finally stands unaided!

Day One: A Tour of Nottingham Contemporary

Janet and Barbara looking at one of the War Dance figures at Nottingham Contemporary

Janet getting up close with one of the war dancers created by Francis Upritchard

Day One: Seeing through Art project at Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind.

A group of the Nottingham and Mansfield arts participants listened to a highly descriptive tour presented by Bo Olawoye, Learning and Access Officer in gallery one and two. The exhibition by Francis Upritchard shows figures in poses described as a war dance, some lying in awkward poses on eye-level plinths, wearing outlandish bright textiles, scarves and cloaks, with many figures having their eyes half open; some eyes covered by spectacles.

The group were able to ‘get up close’ to the finely sewn leather boots, the detailed faces and hair and perfectly formed but smaller than life hands. One participant aimed to use a magnifier with a light to see the detail and those with sight wandered between the figures  in both galleries, assisted by their volunteer partner.

The aim of this blog is to present and follow the progress of the participants as they visit the gallery, attend workshops and create collaborative pieces as a team. The blog also aims to exhibit behind the scenes planning through photography and show all creative processes that the future workshops will hopefully hold. The comments element of this blog allows people to feed back on the project and provides evidence for future planning and access visits to art galleries, particularly developing a partnership with Nottingham Contemporary.

Hope you enjoy the photos and text, I aim to keep this blog like a diary over the next four weeks. Thanks for looking, reading and commenting in advance.

Vicky Price: Arts Officer, NRSB

Eileen looking at a figure, bare on top wearing bright yellow trousers

Eileen looking at a female figure, bare on top wearing bright yellow trousers and with a painted face!

Admiring the neat sewing of fine leather boots and hand crafted clothing of the War Dance figure.

Erica reading the Braille list of exhibit names, as the group look at the only figure with outstretched arms.

Erica reading the Braille list of exhibit names, as the group look at the only figure with outstretched arms.

Crouching man sculpture made from clay, wire and textiles.

Crouching man sculpture made from clay, wire and textiles.