Moving On at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre
This is a brand new group for Jim and I, since Bewerley Croft had to be unfortunately cancelled due to low numbers. The group of people who participated in this shortened sessions come to Osmondthorpe Resource Centre for a day of activities, and they are all too accommodating to the Artlink artists. We came with just an idea: to create a sculpture for their garden. Our reference was Eduardo Paolozzi. The participants are physically disabled, only limited to their movement and sight, but not their abundant enthusiasm, wit and creative skills, as we found out during the course of the seven weeks. As shown here in the first session when we discovered how the participants respond to making 3D versions of the human senses.
The design session got us exploring the physical parts of the body. L is visually impaired, but found a working partner in G, where he became her eyes, even though he is partially impaired himself, leading her hands to trace around his, and in turn she traced around his glasses, with his guidance. They had not worked together in this capacity before and found their working partnership such a blast. When we put the drawings together to form a body, the figures had multiple eyes and hands, to which S responded how it resembles Durga, a Hindu god, with many limbs.
The production started in ernest with everyone busy creating a body part in clay, using the drawings from the previous session as reference. S and S lending a hand mixing the concrete to cast the clay works. Personal stories are shared with us as the participants felt comfortable with our presence and others.
With a lot of Paolozzi’s work, there are elements of machinery. So, we introduced cogs and wheels, as most of the participants use a wheel chair to move around. This session had everyone making more casts, turning out the concrete casts from the previous week, removing the clay to reveal the hollow impressions of eyes, ears, and hands.
The hollows of the concrete casts were used as templates to press copper sheets into to turn them into ‘positives’ again. Metal and concrete are perfect materials for outdoor sculptures, as they are robust and durable. At this stage, there was a hub-bub of activity in the room; some were cleaning out concrete casts, some pressing copper sheets, and one sculpting a huge nose.
The busy creative atmosphere continued on our penultimate session, when we realised that the figure needed feet, so S, J and L volunteered their shoes and foot, respectively, to be encased in plaster bandages.
The concrete shoes and nose were turned out and the parts were ready and complete. J had modelled the nose on S‘s, and he proudly posed with it in front of his. Now we had to design how the sculpture will look with the parts put together. Each participant made a small wire maquette, and then the models went to the vote to see which ones were the most popular.
With the designs finalised, Jim took all the parts back to his studio and began to make the structure that will hold the concrete casts together.
On a wet day in November, Jim and I started to put the structure in place, at a chosen spot, in the garden at Osmondthorpe Resource Centre. We had a few curious onlookers, as the sculpture took shape.
The participants came out to have a closer look at their creation and everyone gave their approval to the piece and agreed that it was a great success given that we only had seven sessions to make it happen. All due to the hard work of everyone.