Bryony is on maternity leave so returning to Bewerley with a new artist Van already seems like an exciting change and development to the sessions. Bewerley might be a small group of participants but they expect a lot and they like to push us to bring a new and exciting program of activities each week. Along with a new artist, Van, it’s great to see we have some new participants as well as a few regulars from previous years.
Week 1 Totems
We kick off week one with a brief introduction from Van. As we find out more about Van’s process I can see eyes widen with wonder and anticipation with what we are going to being doing this year. Van explains to the group that he is a sculpture and that this year we are hoping to push the group into stepping out of their comfort zone and focus on primarily on sculpture and 3D work.
We begin by playing with some air dry clay, making ceramic tiles and pressing flowers and rubber stamps into them. Then moving on to producing totems out of the clay. Rolling it out, wrapping it around a pipe, putting a design into it. It’s great first activity as it gives the group a crash course in the basics of clay and ceramics.
N draws a picture from his imagination. carving out a cabin in a woods with some and water near by. M stamps in the word happy.
Week 2 Painting The Air Dry Clay Tiles And Totems & Wire Sculpting
Today we’re moving onto painting our totems and tiles from last week, ceramic tile painting and some wire sculptures. J, a new participant joins us and C, a regular member from last year, returns this week and it’s lovely to see her.
We begin by explaining to C and J what we did last week and once they’re up to speed we lay out the acrylic paints and the tiles for everyone to paint. P chooses bright colours and paints geometric designs over his tiles. C, H and J carefully pick out the impressions the flowers and stamps made in the tiles to paint them.
M carefully picks his colours carefully, for his totem as he wants it to look like an Aztec piece. C would like to work with some clay and so rolls a piece out and makes indents and reliefs with tools.
“I learn’t more about art in ten weeks with you lot than the six years I’ve been to the Vale (a local day centre).” C say’s whilst sculpting.
Today we challenge the group, to do a continuous line drawing of a face and a profile without taking the pencil off the paper. Once they have done this they have to recreate it in 3D with wire.
The whole group have a great bond, with good banter and always share stories and images of their works of art that they have produced at home. Today is no different and I notice lots of compliments of each others works and peer support and encouragement during the tricker challenge of sculpting the face.
Week 3 Clay Reliefs, Tile And Perspex Painting
It’s a red hot day today, with very little breeze so we decide to work indoors. G asks what we are doing today and a look of dismay comes over his face when we mention that we were once again using clay (had a few issues last week.) However Van has a different type of clay that and has brought with him an excellent example of what we are doing (a face relief). This impresses the group and inspires G and N to get stuck in and have a go.
P and M don’t fancy using clay so whilst Van assists G and N, I work with them on painting perspex and ceramic tiles. I’ve brought in some images and some postcards for inspiration today so P uses a few with the clear perspex so he can trace straight over the image with the glass paint.
P paints a sunflower and an aeroplane hugging a planet.
M is inspired by a postcard of a cornfield with a pond. He claims that he doesn’t have an imagination so begins copying it on to the tile. Once its finished Van encourages him to turn it into a panoramic image and do further tiles to extend his design. This warms his imagination up and he extends it into a diptych of a bridge over the water and a path.
N spends a long time making his relief, he doesn’t use many tools, but instead uses his fingers, as he “likes to feel it.” – this send a laughter around the room. G creates a calm looking face in his relief which was a nice change. Even he joked that it is unlike him and that he normally does demonic faces.
Week 4 Tile, Perspex Painting, Clay Relief Modelling
The sun often comes out for us at Bewerley Croft and today was no different. We decide to do the workshop outside, and Sylvie joins us for the session. We have a variety of different activities to do today, H and G work on their clay reliefs on one table, whilst on the other table, N decides to try some painting on tiles, but taking some time to think about what he is going to paint.
H and G get stuck in by pounding the clay on the ground to remove the air pockets. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it out to the size of the frame, and a water spray to keep the clay moist under the hot sunlight. G begins to sculpt a new face, this time a devilish looking one with a tongue sticking out and a pair of horns.
Van has brought in a few books about Chinese paintings, P has a look through and traces an image of a parrot onto a sheet of perspex. Afterwards he creates a painting on a tile turned long way up, like a Chinese scroll painting.
Throughout the session N slowly develops an idea and creates his tile adding a sun and clouds next to a bird and using a sharp wooden tool to scrape the black paint.
Today the participants are focused, relaxed and have come up with good ideas; G creating a counter image to his calm face from last week with a devilish one and becomes more confident and needs less help; H is inspired by G and N’s reliefs to make her own, which is prompted by an image from a book she’s reading; P painting a triptych of tiles without copying or tracing; N also does not restrict his composition to one tile. The group are really coming into their own and I cannot wait to see how the next six weeks turn out.