Over the last few weeks I have been drawing and painting a series works to be printed on silk and wool for a set of unique textile linings for Victorian ladies cycling garments; commissioned for the Freedom of Movement research project created by sociologist Katrina Jungnickel who is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. The drawings are inspired by Kats in-depth research and tell some of the stories behind each patent, the woman who invented it and the social, technological, physical and cultural challenges that early women cyclists had to face .
Through much of my work with Proboscis collaborating with communities, geographers, technologists and social scientists I’ve become interested in how drawing in public or amongst researchers can be a catalyst for conversation, observation and new analysis, revealing hidden connections and sparking alternative ways to interpret ideas and research. So, rather than being isolated from Kats research in my studio I decided to take the work to Kat’s space in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, and for the conversation this sparked to inform the content and feel of each drawing as it developed. Kat has a keen interest in making, craft and collaboration so at any time there was drawing, sewing, film-making, photography and desk based academic research all going on in the space. The finished linings are the a record of, and result of those intense drawing activities as well as an interpretation of the research.
One of the features of the cycling garments that attracted me to this project is that they convert from one type of garment to another. A long skirt might be folded, gathered or lifted up to above the knee by some mechanism of cords, buttons or hooks, to reveal bloomers worn underneath or perhaps a long coat on top; in another patent a skirt is taken off, to reveal bloomers, and worn as a cycling cape. In previous projects I’ve explored drawing and textiles, creating images that change or are revealed by the movement of the fabric so it was interesting to now do this with such rich research tied to the form of a historical garment and in conversation with the researcher and her team.
I was surprised to find out how controversial it was for women to cycle (particularly wearing bloomers), they were shouted and jeered at, refused entry to cafes, were socially shunned and had dirt thrown at them. The women who invented these garments had to be highly creative and balance the need for modesty with the need for free movement of the limbs and safety from fabric catching in the mechanism of the bicycle. Despite the privileged backgrounds of the very early cyclists (machines were expensive) I think these women must have had to display great courage and strength of purpose to push against convention, adopting and campaigning for women’s freedom to be accepted as cyclists, to race on cycles and wear clothing that allowed them more freedom.
The garments themselves will be worn and used for storytelling and presenting the research. You can see them in an exhibition at Look Mum No Hands from 7pm on the 13 June 2014 find out more at bikesandbloomers.com
“The visitors who told their stories are very proud of the work and the fact that they can see their work put to good use.” Cath Chesterton NEPACS
We were recently asked to create a set of 8 StoryCubes for Hidden Families (part of Royal Holloway University of London’s Families Disconnected by Prison project), to be used by Royal Holloway and partners such as Action for Prisoners Families, NEPACS and in training, talking about and raising awareness of the issues faced by families with a relative in prison.
We selected 48 of the images, originally created for the Hidden Families quilt, around the six key themes that had emerged – family, journey, time, finance, loneliness and support. Using a combination of participants’ photos, words and sketches with my illustrations, we created a block of 8 cubes that brings together some of people’s memories, comments and experiences.
Lizzie Coles-Kemp project lead said; “The focus of this project was to create a call to action by collecting the voices of families separated by prison and using different techniques to present the collective narrative. StoryCubes help us to develop the call to action by making the collective narrative interactive and providing another means for adding to and developing the story of this particular community. They make interactive and tactile objects from the textile quilt which are even more accessible to families, policy makers, practitioners and academics alike.”
NEPACS and Action for Prisoners Families will be using the cubes at training events and conferences, raising awareness of the impact of prison sentences on families.
We have just finished putting together a new publication for the report on Families Disconnected by Prison, of which the Hidden Families project was one part. The project is led by Lizzie Coles-Kemp from the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway University of London and is going to be on show at the AHRC Connected Communities Showcase on the 12 March.
A delivery of digitally printed fabric arrived this morning with the work for the Hidden Families project and for my mermaids and monsters work. I’ll be spending the next few days sewing up the quilts for Hidden Families partners.
The other fabric that arrived is part of new textile and embroidered work inspired by the traditional knowledge, memories and myths of the sea and water that have come up in Storyweir and Tall Tales Ghosts and Imaginings, In Good Heart and Sutton Grapevine.
Some images of the last of the various Storyweir installations from this summer and autumn made with Gary Stewart and Stefan Kueppers, these works are at Arts Centre 13 October till 23 November 2012.
We are showing a new 2 screen audio and video work and a series of 22 works on paper tracing the research ideas. Inspired by the notion that history looks different depending on your perspective, the video clips are randomly selected from a bank of video shot at Hive Beach along with maps, scans of the seabed, drawings and old films. It features footage of several people whose activities bring them into contact with different cycles of life of the area including a fossil hunter, an archaeologist, a kayaker, a member of Coastwatch and Bridport Wild Swimmers. Data about Wave height, wave period and wave direction data gathered over the summer at West Bay is being used to control and modulate an ambient soundtrack that accompanies the voices of many people who live, work and play on the coast.
I have just packed Things I Have Found, Learned and Imagined on Burton Beach – the first set in a series of works on paper I am making to try and make sense of the the many narratives and local stories (of life, time, the sea, the land, folklore, history, industry, craft, science and geology) that have crossed our paths on Burton, Hive and Cogden Beaches for our Storyweir project. They are going to be part of an exhibition of work related to the Exlab commissions at the gallery in Arts University College at Bournemouth opening 9th July – 3rd August. There will be presentations by the 5 commissioned artists on the 12 July at 5pm.
The Soho Food Feast is just around the corner and I am so excited that the bookleteer notebook specially designed for this event will be used by the children of Soho Parish Primary School as they become food critics for the day.
I had a lot of fun illustrating the front cover for this notebook, though browsing through various mouth-watering photographs of dishes to illustrate before lunch wasn’t a good idea.
At first the initial sketch was rather unhealthy. It had more pastry, which seemed appealing to illustrate at the time because of its fancy presentation.But of course healthy eating is very important; especially for children, so the cover design was altered to a healthier version.
A snapshot of my cluttered desk, here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been busying away with; these are props I am creating for an upcoming cut paper animation illustrating how to use Bookleteer.
Traditional beliefs, customs, stories passed down through generations, superstition; you’ve come across some of these at one point in your life or it may still be a part of you to this very day. My next mind map for the Compendium is about Folklore.
Here I explore the different methods to which groups maintain, share and pass on traditions. It also contains quotes from the New York Folklore Society website, where people expressed what folklore meant to them and how it affected their daily lifestyle.
The cultural aspect is a public good, the knowledge or reasoning of why something is the way it is. A method people use to teach others about experiences expressed as stories, songs, performance, legends, myths and rhymes.
It is something communities strive to maintain as folklore symbolise their identity to themselves and others.
As part of our work on the VOME project with researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London’s Information Security Group we are working with Pallion Action Group in Pallion in Sunderland on a community engagement project to co-design a process with the local community in Pallion, Sunderland to create a knowledge network around money, spend and budgets. We are collaborating with PAG to identify the areas and issues challenging people around household economies. The project feeds into VOME’s aim of “exploring how people engage with concepts of information privacy and consent in online interactions”.
We’ve have been co-designing designing a set of huge posters with people at PAG to help gather knowledge and find the right language to use. We took a first set up recently for the first exploration session, and based on peoples’ comments revised and changed them and will be heading off to do a two day series of activities with local people to dig deeper into peoples concerns about costs, spend, what we can rely on and what is unreliable. I think the project is going to involve some very interesting cycles of creating, discussing, revising, changing and re-producing materials until we can collaboratively come up with the right materials.
Continuing my exploration into public goods for the Compendium I thought about public spaces; parks, the town square, spaces that doesn’t require a fee to access. In these spaces, we often see people walking around, hanging about, waiting for someone, conversing with each other, and so on; and then it hit me – places to meet and hang out can be considered as a public good. These could be conventional spaces such as the park or places that encourage socialising like a cafe, but there are also informal spaces; ones that are not dictated.
An example of an informal space brings me back to my university days; every weekend when I had to go to the main high street to buy food for my deprived fridge, I would have to walk through the town square where flocks of teenagers would hang out, spreading across the flights of stairs and having to dodge the dangerous skater boys practicing stunts from one side to the other. It was the same every weekend without fail.
Continuing with my experiments for the Compendium using paper crafts, I wanted to try animating with 3D models. To animate something that was flat pack and have it lifting up as if inflating and popping up into shape from the ground. So I went on a hunt for a 3D paper model – thus coming across the tortoise designed by Konica Minolta. It took some time to assemble but the finished tortoise looked great.
But Yumi was not a flat pack, she was made up of separate pieces, so the aim of the experiment changed slightly to experimenting puppetry with Yumi a 3D model and have a story cube inflate into shape instead. This time round the experiment had two subjects or actors if you will, in the scene. So the difficulty here was getting the timing right between the two.
The folding paper piece was quite quick and simple to animate, so the next one to experiment with for the Compendium needed to be a bit more challenging. A self folding origami crane. For those who are familiar with folding the crane, you’ll know that the crane have symmetrical folds ; so the real challenge here was working out how to make the paper flip over to carry out the repeated folds once one side completed the necessary step. My first attempt in solving this issue became too complicated and confusing, that I had to stop animating and go back to the drawing board to revise the storyboard.
Following the new storyboard the animation progressed at a good pace at the start but towards the end I wasn’t consistent with the number of key frames so it may look like the crane got impatient and hastily folded itself during the last few seconds. Despite the frames per second, I achieved the main goal of animating a self folding origami crane! But to maintain the consistency of frames, I am going to need to devise a time sheet to go along with the storyboard.
Branching out from the idea of social transactions; mentioned in a previous post about Stefan’s reunion over the holidays, led me to the topic of communication as a public good. How do we carry out these social transactions? Why is it so important to convey our thoughts and opinions to others and how will this result as a public good?
Communication fits the description of being both non-rival and non-excludable; words used from an economic point of view to define what a public good is. Thanks to conventional methods and modern technology, sharing ideas and thoughts have become widely available. But the point I am trying to make here is how we use these ‘props’ to communicate and share information.
The internet itself is not a public good, rather the communication and information functions it provides is. As a result the internet has given opportunities to create online communities that allow social connectivity of diverse groups, sharing information and knowledge that led to the creation of open source applications.
Taking these thoughts and ideas for the Compendium, I illustrated and brainstormed examples of our methods of communication through traditions; stories of experiences, songs, and visuals. Also thinking about the different outcomes created from the act of communicating such as social groups and communities linked through common interests, open source materials, data and information.
Having spent some time researching about animation techniques for the Compendium, I was nudged to move away from my desk and start experimenting with animation on the other side of the studio. There, I was greeted with a green screen; a roll of thick green paper which Alice had heaved up the many flights of stairs and hung up ready to go. The camera positioned and set in place hooked up to the laptop; this marks the beginning of the animation experiments that I’ve been looking forward to.
My first experiment! ‘Folding paper’. I began by making quick sketches of the key frames with the help of a prototype of the subject to work out its movements. Using stop motion and following my storyboard, this paper will fold itself.This is so much fun!
As part of my explorations into the notion of Public Goods for the Compendium, I’ve been creating some sketch maps that explore how to define public goods. What are they? Public goods come in many forms and their meaning and values vary among different groups of people.
Whilst preparing to have lunch with the team, Stefan began telling us a story about his family feast during the holiday season. The social transactions he had during the reunion, the reminiscing of traditional dishes. It sparked the thought that it wasn’t just the act of sharing food that was a public good, but everything that evolved around it. Where and how we get our food; the agricultural skills and knowledge needed to grow our food; the market place in which people come together not just to buy goods but for social interactions and where communities share stories; the history and culture, our traditions and sociology behind food, and ‘Foodways‘ – a term used to describe any piece of food culture which once existed in a time and place that tells a story about who we are.
One of the definitions of Public Goods in economics terms describes them as goods that are not diminished by a persons consumption of them. The air is cited as an example, sometimes the beach, street lighting, free broadcast television and so on (though in the ‘real world’ perhaps nothing really fits this description). Are there other interactions we value that might be called public goods? Things that people feel are precious about the places and communities they belong to – stories, skills, games, songs and so on. Maybe they are more intangible than a place, or element or thing, like the way people use local markets as places to meet, converse or share knowledge.
The notion of Public Goods comes up often in our work; common space and ‘the commons’ as a public good for Being in Common; the role of markets and independent traders in Lancaster for As It Comes, and in Hertfordshire for With Our Ears to the Ground and the social impact of technologies for Urban Tapestries, Snout and Social Tapestries. I can’t quite pinpoint what these public goods are and I want to try and make a bit more sense of them for our Public Goods programme so I’m working with Mandy to create a Compendium of Public Goods – a series of short animations inspired by many of the conversations and interviews we have had with people about their lives and communities. We are starting with a look back over conversations I had with the March History Group in Lancaster about jumble sales, hand me downs and knitted swimming suits… remember knitted swimming suits anyone?
Recently the Proboscis team have been working with the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET) and Crucible at the University of Cambridge on a collaborative research project. As the artist for this project, my responsibility ranged from creating visual notations during discussion and brainstorming sessions to illustrating the outcomes of the teams’ reflections in the form of insights and observations. My work was incorporated into a set of books known as Agencies of Engagement.
Each book required a different approach to create a series of illustrations, to accompany the written narrative.
The very first being, visual notation. I used this in the early stages of the project to capture the different ideas discussed during brainstorming sessions. The challenge here was that the discussion was live, it was vital to listen carefully; picking out words to sketch as fast as possible and trying not to fall behind. The idea to this approach was to allow others to see the dialogue visually, the illustrations represented words, topics and how it connected with each other.
The next series of illustrations was aimed to capture the moment of an activity, it was placed in the book describing the project’s progress (Project Account). The sketches consisted of members taking part in a workshop, it was illustrated by using the photographs taken during the session as the foundation and creating a detailed line drawing on top to accompany the detailed nature of the Project Account book.
The most challenging of them all was for the book, Drawing Insight, this book consisted of the teams’ insights and observations. The illustrations were quite conceptual, and although accompanied with captions the representations of these illustrations needed to be obvious to the reader. Thus being a very iterative process and required a lot of patience, I would often talk to the team to define the meaning behind captions to develop sketches to reflect it and then after a thorough review sketches would be tweaked, polished and re-polished until we felt that they had captured the right feeling.
The illustrations used in the Method Stack book, took on the same principle as the Project Account but with less detail. The aim to this approach was to simply suggest and spark ideas in relation to the thorough explanation to each engagement method, by keeping it as simple line drawings it becomes easier for the reader to fill in the blanks with their own creativity.
Finally, Catalysing Agency had a combination of both visual notations from an audio recording from the Catalyst Reflection Meeting and conceptual illustrations like those used in Drawing Insight.
This was my first research project with Proboscis, it was a very intricate one and no doubt the experience I gained from this will be invaluable. Learning about the different methods of engaging with participants of this project and putting them into practice, and deciphering complex findings into a visual to give an insight to others were the main lessons learnt throughout this project, it emphasised the importance of dialogue and communication.
Agencies of Engagement has enabled me to explore and refine my skills in terms of the different approaches to creative thinking. It wasn’t as simple as sketch what you see; there were multiple layers of things to consider – meanings, perception and how the illustrations were to be perceived. Not only was I able to hone my artistic skills in my comfort zone of conceptual illustrations, I was able to explore new techniques such as visual notations in a live situation and both styles of line art for Project Account and Method Stack.
I’ve received my own copy of the finished publication and am overwhelmed with pride, the team did an amazing job and I look forward to participating in more projects like this.
Agencies of Engagement is a new 4 volume publication created by Proboscis as part of a research collaboration with the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technology and the Crucible Network at the University of Cambridge. The project explored the nature of groups and group behaviours within the context of the university’s communities and the design of software platforms for collaboration.
The books are designed to act as a creative thinking and doing tool – documenting and sharing the processes, tools, methods, insights, observations and recommendations from the project. They are offered as a ‘public good’ for others to learn from, adopt and adapt.
Download, print out and make up the set for yourself on Diffusion or read the online versions.
The new Lancashire based publication Back&Beyond, out this week, have published a feature on As It Comes. The team behind this arts, culture and heritage publication have a long-term goal of creating a regular, high quality arts publication for the area. It combines fiction and non-fiction writing together with profiles of local artists, projects and organisations. The publication is created by a group of artists, designers and writers and this first issue is free, if you would like a copy they can be found around Lancaster or contact Back&Beyond directly.
Hello! It’s been a while since my last post and what have I been up to you ask? Well, I’ve been honing my skills in advanced Pictionary! Or at least that’s one way of looking at it as it takes on the same principle of visual interpretations from words. For the past few weeks Giles and Alice have been throwing words, concepts and phrases at me to create sketches visualising the meanings behind them.
Below are a few examples I have created which illustrate some of the many different projects Proboscis have accomplished over the years and key outcomes from them:
Perception Peterborough – valuing citizens’ voices in city planning & regeneration.
Navigating History – creating new awareness of rich local archives and resources.
Sensory Threads – revealing value creation in cross sector collaborations.
Snout – using play to inspire people and make complex issues more accessible.
With Our Ears to the Ground – connecting council depts to work together for the first time for cohesive community development.
Lattice – providing the catalyst for new creative collaborations.
Having been a part of Proboscis for a fair amount of time now, trying to describe the type of work Proboscis does can be a little tricky. So the best way around it was to look at what Proboscis had accomplished in the past, giving me a new perspective on the kinds of projects and themes Proboscis had undertaken and the different types of people they have worked with.
This part of the project had given me an great opportunity to exercise my conceptual skills, visualising complex activities and abstract ideas and presenting them in the form of a single sketch.
It was challenging creating a sketch that would capture and reflect the sense of a complex project and required a lot of conversation – to which I would carefully listen to pull out keywords that may best describe the process, outcomes and achievements of a project, then further researching to finalise sketches.
Throughout the process I’ve developed the ability to visualise concepts using a single word or string of words and sketching to reflect the meaning behind the words or the ideas conveyed, giving me new confidence as a concept artist to visualise something quickly and to use my imagination to give some of the sketches a touch of humour and a new perspective.
It has been an enjoyable experience, and given me a new insight to the type of work a visual interpreter/ graphic artist does and I look forward to more work like this in the near future.
Last month I went up to Coventry Market to spend the day talking to traders and shoppers about set of works on paper I made last year as part of an ongoing series about markets, food and the informal spaces that draw communities together. The Coventry Market Traders found the works online, contacted me and bought them to hang permanently in the market hall. It was a honour to have the traders buy the work and bring it back home where it was created. You can get a sense of Coventry Market from this film made by the traders. The drawings will be on permanent display later this year but for now you can see images of the 10 works on flickr here. They grew out of a commission from Dan Thompson of the Empty Shops Network to record some of the places the ESN Tour was going to. I was inspired by the vibrancy of Coventry Market and the care traders take over arranging and decorating their stalls as well as the range of produce; from pet food to ribbon, cards to cucumbers, roasting tins to yams, fishing tackle to carpets, cakes and cranberries, you name it, someone will have it. You can find out more on the market website.
I want to say a big thanks to Bill and Sophie for looking after me so well last month and to Brian and all the Coventry Market traders for making me so welcome.
The fabric I designed is back from being digitally printed at Forest Digital. I’ve worked with this kind of printing once before and I like the option to print very short lengths and the fact that there is probably less pollution created due to using ink instead of the chemical materials and water of traditional printing. The fabric is off to fashion designer Mrs Jones this week and we will be showing the final garments as part of Day + Gluckman’s show in Collyer Bristow Gallery Fifties Fashion and Emerging Feminism later this month. The fabric is inspired by stories of the 50s told to me by a group of Lancastrian’s I met earlier this year for As it Comes.
I’m currently working with Fee Doran (aka Mrs.Jones) to create some garments from my drawings for a new commission that curators Day+Gluckman (Lucy Day and Elisa Gluckman) offered me for their upcoming show, Fifties, Fashion and Emerging Feminism at Collyer Bristow Gallery, which also includes a new commission by Freddie Robbins and work by WESSIELING.
Yesterday I received a package of stories, from Lancasters Marsh History group about life and clothes in the 50s as part of my research. The stories from the group, along with much of my other research into the legacy of the 50s really underlined how dramatically life seemed to change afterwards. Having not lived through the 50s I look back on it from two conflicting perspectives. In one way I think of it through the furniture and decorations I saw when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s that made me think of the 50s as an austere, constricting time, not one I would have liked, as a women, to live in. I look back to it as a time of austerity and of conservative values embodied in codes of behaviour, dress, traditions, gender, race and class hierarchies, when the glamour of high fashion was based on rigid expectations of a woman’s role in the home in society. I also think of the cold war, fear of communism, fear of the ‘other’. In contrast have seen the hope and imagination in the 1950′s visions of the future and I hear memories of strong communities, care neighbourlyness, the freedom to play and run about the streets many children had, that is almost unimaginable now, and of the huge inventiveness and creativity that flowered in and after that time, and of the lives people new to the UK built in difficult times. I learned when I started working in the arts I learned about the hugely inventive developments in design, art, architecture… (Rae and Charles Eames, Lucienne Day…).
For the commission we were asked to respond to iconic images of John French and the fabric prints of Joyce Clissold that Day+Gluckman are including in the show, as well as the Festival of Britain. This led me through a route that encompassed my interests in technology development, myths of place, everyday life and back to Lancaster where I have recently been working on As It Comes a project about Lancasters Traders, to think about Horrockses the cotton manufacturer who launched an iconic ready to wear collection in the late 40s. This brought me back to the Marsh History group in Lancaster. who are such great storytellers; its something to do with their blend of straight talking but kind Lancashire humour and an uncanny ability to remember the mundane and extraordinary detail of everyday life more then 50 years ago.
I’m creating a series of fabric designs and working with Fee Doran (Mrs.Jones) to create custom garments for the show, alongside a series of drawings that reflect the mythical image of glamorous 50s fashion and new domestic technology against the lived experience of the everyday. I’ll be incorporating traces of embroidery and snippets of conversation into folds, pleats and hems.
You’ll be able to see the finished work from: 26 May – 21 September, 2011
at Collyer Bristow Gallery, 4 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4TF
FIFTIES, FASHION and EMERGING FEMINISM:
Iconic John French prints, from the V&A Archive, alongside highlights from the Museum and Study Collection at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, work by WESSIELING, and new commissions by artists Alice Angus with Fee Doran (aka Mrs.Jones) and Freddie Robins responding to the world of fashion.
Last month I went to Bristol, to Knowle West Media Centre as part of Whose Data? an intensive residency week where 8 artists worked with the community to find ways of sharing live data. The artists; Jules Rochielle, Julie Myers, Paul Hurley, Susanne Stahl, Richard Layzell, Steven Paige, Chris Chapman came from backgrounds in performance, design, fine art as well as digital media.
Knowle is a large housing estate just outside the centre of Bristol and though it is classified in some areas as a “deprived urban area” it has a strong community and sense of place. It was built along the lines of the Garden City Movement and has lots of green space and gardens. There is an interesting mix of urban and rural and many people have a close relationship to the land;- they keep horses, sometimes in their gardens, chickens even pigs are not unknown.
The idea was to come up with locally relevant ideas for using live data that could be useful to people who want to know more about energy use, weather, growing food on their allotments and so on. During the week the artists created and presented ideas to KWMC and local residents four of these will be awarded a residency to develop their ideas further. Whose Data? is being led by Dane Watkins, who has been artist in residence at KWMC since 2009 (initially supported by Science City Bristol) working on the Electric Footprint project. The week long event was open submission and KWMC offered a small fee that was enough to make it possible for people to take time out and explore ideas. Its not something that happens often as a way to research a proposal but its a great model becuase whatever the outcome of the final selection it is a rare chance to intensely experience a situation as part of developing new ideas and dialogues. I liked the intensity, the time to get immersed in the place and the ‘open door’ approach KWMC has to the community.