Wednesday 1 September 2010

Surrounded by Felted Flowers and Mixed Media Sculptures at the Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield

How exciting; a chance for me to wear both of my artistic hats (Frillip Moolog and AllSensesArt) at once.
This summer I exhibited six of my Frillip Moolog sculptures in the beautiful and unique setting of the Erasmus Darwin House.

The show Inventions of the Mind was a wonderful opportunity for me to exhibit my sculptures here in my home town of Lichfield. It was also a fantastic opportunity to run lots of outreach

The project was organised by 52 Weeks of Art and was made possible thanks to funding from Tesco PLC. Inventions of the Mind ran from 31st Jul – 23rd Aug but the highpoint was the Celebration Day on Saturday 21st Aug.

Peter Walker from 52weeks of art organised Life the Universe and Darwin to show off all the work that had been made throughout several 52 Weeks of Art projects.

So here I am surrounded by felted flowers all made by participants in my AllSensesArt workshops at Erasmus Darwin House.

There are 60 flowers here and absolutely no two are the same.
During my sessions I worked with people of all ages and from all walks of life. This was so exciting!

No one had made felt before and many had never been to the Erasmus Darwin House either. So this was their chance to learn about this colourful character from the 18th century and also the magic of feltmaking.

Erasmus Darwin was interested in so many things and is often described as the 18th century’s most famous polymath. Amongst other things he was a doctor, an inventor, a scientist and a poet. He did ground breaking research on plants, recognising the importance of photosynthesis.

He also wrote a hugely long poem Loves of the Plants. It was very popular in its time and is said to have had a significant influence on the Romantic Poets: Shelley, Coleridge and Wordsworth. So it seemed perfect that I should run some felted flower

So one basic method and what different results.
Here we can see Sylvia and Avril’s flowers. These ladies from the beacon Park Retirement Village were so much fun.

Sylvia proudly shows off her freshly felted flower.
Avril plans to wear her felted flower on a special hat and Sylvia seemed a natural at felting. I wouldn’t be surprised if she isn’t teaching classes of her own soon!
It’s never too late to learn a new skill and felting is one that can be taught to all ages.
One of the ladies in that session piped up that she was the oldest in the class. She was ninety… and had just learnt how to felt!

I also worked with some young ladies from Lichfield Young Embroiders Group. As the sessions progressed (there were 10 people in each session) flowers styles also developed.
This one made by Jo, one of the school teachers who came for a fun afternoon of felting, proved to be quite inspirational.
She decided not to cut the petals, and instead left lovely organic wavy edges. You can see the halo effect of using pre-felt made from two colours here.

In her busy career she doesn’t have much time for relaxing craft sessions. This was a perfect school holiday de-stressor for her!

Jo's flower with halo effect, leaf and stamens.

Some of the flowers were made by some adults from the Nuffield Centre a centre which supports people with mental health difficulties and also physical disabilities. I was so proud of their flowers and yes, Christine and Kerry left the session with some wool fibres to make more at home. That’s a success!

Erasmus Darwin was a prolific inventor inventing, a steering axle for carriages, a horizontal windmill, a copying machine and a speaking machine amongst other things. Back in the 18th century there wasn’t the same division between natural sciences and engineering.

Anneka French’s essay about Inventions of the Mind talks about the similarities between Erasmus Darwin and me; like him I take inspiration from all aspects of life and enjoy using unusual combinations of materials when making my sculptures.

'Stan' in particular incorporates a downpipe from a bus station and also a bulbous nuno felted vessel “body”.

'Stan'. A conversation piece between these waxwork figures of Erasmus Darwin and Matthew Bolton.
I also ran some Children’s Sculpture Workshops. (Several parents made their own sculptures too!)
This workshop was in two parts: First learning how to make a magic felted ball (which we then cut it in half to reveal the swirly pattern inside).

Then I loaded up the table with a lovely array of materials. Some with interesting sculptural shapes like kitchen funnels, sieves and latex muffin cases and others with gorgeous tactile qualities like, sponges, pan scourers and feathers.

'Batty' made by Charlie (aged 6).

I told the children that I actually call my sculptures ‘beings’ rather than sculptures and that I sometimes make up stories about them. Suddenly we had even more creativity in the room!

By Maddy Sadler

Origin: South America
Favourite Music: Blues and Reggae
Favourite Hobby: Dancing and carnivals
Plays: Bongos and Guitar
Dream Holiday: Amazon rainforest or the Himalayas (with her friend Kevin)
Likes: Cowboys, parrots, pandas, sequins, cream soda and candy floss
Dislikes: Ribbons, jellied eels, rotten coconuts and dentists
Profession: Philosopher (florist on the weekends)
Enjoys watching: wrestling and nature documentaries

Here's Maddy while making 'Samanka'. See what she wrote about him above.

The display on the celebration day on 21st Aug was really fantastic and it was so exciting for all the participants and their families to come and see their own creations exhibited in Life the Universe and Darwin. For me this was a perfect opportunity to show off my own sculptures, to talk about the Frillip Moolog beings (sculptures) and to encourage people not only to think more about art but to actually make some of their own.

It was a lovely combination to be able to exhibit my work, teach skills and empower creativity and to then also exhibit the outreach work in a way that emphasises that everyone’s creation was worthy.

We were winners all round!


pwig said...

Baby beings.

Great stuff.

Particularly like the extra dimension the profile gives.

Barbs said...

you've inspired some quality creations this year Kirsty