Session 6

Myself and Damian found it difficult to confirm dates that suited us both so we had a break of a few weeks before the final session.  With some groups I would be worried that they would have lost interest or forgotten about what we were doing but they were all on form when I arrived up.

I decided to visit the school for session 6.  I wanted to find out what they thought of the project – what were the advantages and disadvantages of working using this software.

It seemed the advantages and disadvantages roughly evened themselves out!  Working form my studio/home allowed the class a unique perspective – they got to see where I worked and my new dog Duke! Working online allowed us to share links and keep track of the progress with this journal.  However, we experienced long delays with made communication difficult at times and often the links I shared would be blocked from their end – sites like Vimeo or Youtube.

For the main part of this final session I had brought up 200 bamboo sticks, with a view to making a huge collaborative sculpture – in a away an extension of the stick sculptures that we had been working on.

I was a little unsure how the day would go – how we could organise the work so everyone was engaged. We figured out together that it was best to work in teams first, and then try to join the work together.

I was amazed by their problem solving abilities – how they figured out what the strongest structures were and how they added supports to weaker areas.  Also, the work remained  about the materials and process as opposed to it becoming representational.

I learned a lot from this project.  The communication difficulties required me to take somewhat of a back seat, but this meant the class took the lead a little bit – which was great.  Connecting with the class from the place where I make work helped to draw out parallels in my practice and what we as a group were making.  I found I had to place my trust in Damian and Ruth more than I would do if I was doing a project like this in a classroom, and I was pleasantly surprised by the groups willingness to keep looking at the same subject, even if it was from slightly different angles.

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Session 5

The fact that it was difficult for me to see the classes work as they were making it meant that I had a lovely surprise when they uploaded the photos.  The last session we looked at drawing the shadows of our sculptures.  Thankfully it was a beautiful sunny day in Cabragh and the class enjoyed working outside in the sun.

At the beginning of session 5 we had a chat about how they got on.  I had mentioned how important it was to keep the models still as they drew around them, however, a few small problems presented themselves that I had not expected.

Although they kept the models still, the movement of the sun and the clouds made the shadow wobble a bit – making the drawing more difficult. Also, depending on the structure, some of them found it hard to trace in between the shape, to reach the shadows that fell inside the structure with their pencils.

All this aside, I was amazed by the work.  the drawings were so beautiful, and it was really interesting looking for links between the drawings and the original models.  Generally, the class were surprised by end results.

Thinking about our overall theme of interconnectedness, and staying with our wooden structures I thought we could look at specific routes through our sculptures.  How do they all connect up to form the overall piece.

As research I looked at work by artist Dan Shipsides – and his sculptures that mapped climbing routes.  I also looked at routes highlighting paths for mountaineers and highlighted walkways through buildings.

Some of the class had to remake their models again as the clay joints did not survive ll the movement – taking them oustside to draw and back in again.  They finally settled on using masking tape as the best material to join the wooden kebab stick together.

Once they all had models ready to go Damien and Ruth got them all set up for painting the different pathways through the models.

The technology was acting up a bit, long audio delays but I was delighted with the classes enthusiasm for the the work.  It was difficult to see the results during the session but I was really excited by the photos when they uploaded them all.

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Session 4

We had some difficulty tying down dates for the remaining sessions.  It is a very busy time of year for St. Marys.

I had been chatting tm my mentor Ann about the class making representational work, while in my head I was expecting more abstract structures.  She mentioned showing some work by Buckminster Fuller so for our fourth session I collected some imagery relating to his practice.

When I tuned into the class again and we chatted a little about the last session it turn out a lot of the kebab stick models had fallen apart, and that they found it quite difficult to work with the plastercine.

Some of them suggested using modelling clay.  So they set about making new models with the grey air-drying clay and wooden sticks.  I was really impressed by their willingness to return to the same practical work as last week.

A major concern of mine in studio is the relationship between 2d and 3d.  Looking at the images from last week that Damien posted I was interested in fleshing this idea out a little, under the overall theme of interconnectedness.

In studio I am interested in the relationship between 2d and 3d and thought that this was one of my areas of interest that reflected our theme.  I thought of looking at the shadows cast by the models as a way of exploring these ideas.  Fortunately it was a beautiful sunny day up in Cabragh so the class could take the work outside and trace the shadows.

The rest of the work from this session can be seen over on the Class’s Gallery.


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Session 3

I am writing the posts for session 3-6 retrospectively.  This project has been a very interesting learning experience for me.  For the first couple of sessions I prepared a huge amount of research images, making elaboration presentations to the class.  Part of this was excitement using the new software and part of it was that I was a little worried about the length of each workshop – 3 hours.

As the project developed we experienced some complications with audio and video delay.  This made conversation very difficult, so I pulled back a little on the long chats at the beginning of the class and aimed to keep the work more practically.  Interestingly, as a consequence I felt the class started to engage more with the project.

In order to facilitate focusing on physically making work it was necessary for me to tune out of the session more and leave Damian, Ruth and the class get on with the work.  This felt a little strange for me at first but I think the resulting work speaks for itself.

Out of the work from the first few sessions I became very interested in looking further at ‘Interconnectedness” and wondered how this idea was reflected in my own practice. I could see this theme underlining my sculptures and drawings and wanted us as a group to start making sculptures based on this theme.

I collected some imagery that demonstrated to me the theme.

And we started making some work using wooden kebab sticks and plastercine.  I was thinking of abstract forms, so I had expected them to just play with the materials and see the results.

The work they made however was mostly representational – based on public sculptures they had seen in Belfast or other structures from there daily environment.  This point woke me up a little to the differences in our opinions on what art can be!


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Session 2 – Interconnectedness

I was really happy with the first session – we had no big problems with the technology and I found myself excited and motivated afterwards.

I was wondering however what the class made of it all so at the beginning of session 2 I asked them to write down 1 word that described for them the first session.

I was looking for ways of expanding our theme of the Solar System, angles that I thought were interesting or ways of using the subject to make work that was concerned with the 2d 3d relationships.  I came across a really amazing video called “The Most Astounding Fact” and decided to use this as a starting point for the second session.

The Most Astounding Fact

Unfortunately we couldn’t watch the video during the class, all the hosting sites like vimeo and you tube were blocked on the schools system.  I tried sharing my screen but it played too slowly and was  unwatchable.  The file was way too big to email so I just took the main points raised in the video and we had a chat about it.

I put a statement raised in the video to the class to see what their response

“We are in the universe and the the universe is in us”

This formed a really interesting conversation about interconnectedness. A lovely response was:
“the sun keeps the universe living…like our heart in our bodies”

I collected a series of images related to interconnectedness

These led onto some practical work using wooded stick and plastercine


My intention had been to for the class to play with the sticks and plastercine – to see what they could do with it. What was interesting was in my head I thought they would all make abstract forms, but they all came back with very specific objects made, for example, a pyramid or a powerstation. I would like to look at this again, working with a lot more materials to form a big interconnected collaborative sculpture!

Another interesting angle on Interconnectedness are Mandalas.  As we had run out of materials to develop our wooden sculptures I thought we have a quick look at Mandalas.


Looking forward to following on from this in the next session.

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Session 1 – mind maps

On my first visit to the school we decided to look at the solar system as a starting point for our project. When I am working in my own studio I use mind maps to help me sort through ideas, for me thinking needs to be attached to some kind of doing. Also, when I am collaborating with a group I find mind maps very helpful for getting all our ideas down and for developing a thought process for the project.

So, to start the practical work on the project I thought we could make our own mind maps looking at the Solar System.

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Session 1 – topography

In my own studio work I am very interested in the relationship between 2D and 3D. When I first visited St. Mary’s I showed some of my own images and we decided to look at this relationship during our project.  So the question became how to make work that looks at this in the context of this project, as in, communicating mostly over the internet.

The fact that the class and myself are based in different locations interested me, so I took so screen grabs of Google Maps showing my location and the location of the school.  I was also able to show the class when I was working from through the webcam on my computer.

Taking the theme of the Solar System, and having already looked at google maps I started to research topographic images, how we can draw a 3D landscape in a 2D fashion.  I though we could make our own topographic drawings of imagined alien landscape.

To develop this idea further we transferred the images onto templates for platonic solids and cut them out to form 3d shapes with topographic drawings inscribed on the surface.


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