Tag Archives: collaboration

Pathways

This year I decided to get get involved with art workshops with different groups of people. I participated with the artist Wendy Daws in a workshop funded by Pathways to Inclusion for autistic people and those with learning disabilities.

Pathways workshop

I was working with Michael who is visually impaired.  Despite his visual impairment he is a talented artist with a flair for handling materials in a sensitive and uninhibited way.  He produces ‘naïve’ style, ‘outsider’ looking work, seemingly produced through an indifference to outcomes (or a fearless give-it-a-go approach) allowing his joy in both materials and process to have full sway. His sketch book is bursting with drawings including self portraits, animals, pints of beer and plates of grilled food. Those are the pictures I remember the most.

Working together over several weeks, we used his sketch book material to generate some 2D and 3D pieces.

Mask

I mixed some colours and he painted.  I occasionally guided his hand, where he couldn’t see the edges/borders of the paper for example.  In the painting below we cut up a tracing of one of his portrait sketches into jigsaw like pieces, jumbled up the shapes and re-arranged them on a fresh piece of paper to produce an abstracted image;  like a broken mirror version of the portrait. Then Michael drew round the shapes in black marker pen and built up the colour on the face and background:

Self Portrait

He later entered his portrait into a competition with MCCH and won first prize: http://www.mcch.org.uk/News/general-news/stop-press-mcch-has-got-talent.aspx

The end of the project  was marked by an exhibition held at the Tourist Information Centre, Rochester.

Pathways Project Exhibition

After the project was over Wendy invited me to participate in another workshop with Kent Association for the Blind. As part of this project an exhibition of group members’ and volunteers’ work was held at Rochester Cathedral.

Eyes Wide Open Preview

Michael also got involved with the ‘Eyes Wide Open’ project. Working with another helper this time, he drew this portrait in pastels for the exhibition:

Pastel portrait by Michael Cowe

In hindsight it seems that the experience of working with Michael inspired the piece that I made for this exhibition – it continues in the vein of cut out assembled shapes and the use of black lines for emphasis:

Painting entitled "Meaning of Life"

Meaning of Life (2010)

I asked Rochester Cathedral visitors over the course of an afternoon to consider ‘the meaning of life’ and summarise using one word on a small triangle. I filled a larger triangle with their responses.

Colour charts from various wall paint companies were used to create the small triangles. The names of the colours are still present revealing their source as colour charts. When considering the meaning of life I wanted a reference to domesticity, everyday life and ordinary surroundings to remain present; the grand idea juxtaposed with the familiar.

When considering the Meaning of Life, the triangle was selected as a spiritually significant and potent symbol that represents the Trinity for example. The concept of filling a large triangle with smaller ones is about the parts to the whole; the microcosm to the macrocosm.

Some of the smaller triangles are empty, others contain a word; the thought of an individual presented with the question ‘what is the meaning of life.’ Collectively, their ideas cluster to form a pattern within the whole.

I designed the final piece to cascade like shards of coloured glass in a stained glass window, but the icon is removed and replaced with a collective abstraction or communal narrative.

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Pistols and Pollinators

Pistols and Pollinators is an exhibition sharing the manifestations of an experimental project that required participants to deconstruct the methods intrinsic to their creative practices and push the limits of genre and classical boundaries.

Accident & Emergence, together with poet Jacqueline Saphra matched 28 artists & poets to work in collaborative partnerships. For 6 months the pairs have been sharing their techniques, experience and creative process in order to generate dynamic new works that combine linguistic and visual modes of address.

The pairs have embraced both the possibilities and problems of collaboration, shifting the balance of their individual practices towards an economy of shared ideas. Establishing and exploring common concerns across their respective disciplines, the pairs have taken varied approaches to the idea of working together, cultivating performances, furniture, archives of letters, journeys, rituals and alter egos.

Recently I have been involved in Pistols and Pollinators; a collaborative project between artists and poets over a period of several months which culminated in a show at Stoke Newington Library Gallery.

Stoke Newington Library Gallery

Different types of collaboration emerged amongst the artists and poets; one pair wrote to each other using the postal system and sent each other objects for investigation. Another pair played on the immediacy of first impressions by painting and writing back and forth in response to each others work in a painterly/poetic conversation. Another pair explored Diasporas and secret keeping in families. Another pair examined their experiences of different dwelling places through poetry and installation. One pair made poetic notes, doodles and drawings in the same sketch book, knitting streams of thought across the paper. Some pairs crossed into their partner’s territory; artists doing poetry and poets doing art. They said this approach opened up a whole new dimension to their practice.

Other Wall

I partnered with Sh’maya to produce a triptych in response to his Three Arias.

Study for Three Arias

My collaboration with Sh’maya has been going on longer than this project itself. The Three Arias was an (as yet) unwritten concept he had in mind for a couple of years. It was after some time we spent together (see last post) that he began the writing process to birth the idea into written form and I subsequently responded to them visually.

Exhibition textMy starting point was to take the idea of ‘Threeness’ expressed in the Arias by using three equilateral triangles for emphasis – three x three. At first I found it challenging to be moved by the poems. My first idea to overcome this block was to play the audio recordings and paint whilst I listened. That got me started, but I soon felt it was important to engage with them more rationally or consciously. After many readings I began to sense their rhythmical pace and the suggestiveness of the words offered visual ideas; I allowed the tempo and imagery of each poem to inform my handling of paint and bodily movement.

Painting entitled "First Aria"

First Aria (2010)

HEART

The time

I was drinking tea

In the garden

Watching the ivy bush

At the end of the lawn

 

It was there

Lay the final embers of the sun

Languished breath hovering

Lowing orange and echoless

Cross the flow of the ivy

 

The leaves hung swollen

Suffused in light

Fertile in foetal white

Igniting the chlorophyll phosphorescent

Incandesced

Through slats of the garden lattice

 

Their shapes were smattered and splashed

By shadows of bush twigs

Slashed swooning over lunar chimeras

Fingers of cirrus reaching silhouettes

Past breadths of shimmering moons

 

The wind brushed through them in such a way

As to tremble their frames

In the radiance thus contained

Sonar flames

Straining through depths

Of waning coronas

Shuddered hushed and reverent

As emerald flares luminescent

In the roaring blush of a dying day

 

Between the ivy bush and I

Writhed a swarm of horseflies

Spinning frenetic ecstatic

In the pool-parched air

 

Each one drenched full in sunset

Starched wet in naked rays

Of aching dusk strayed across

Their flailing movements

A chaos of sun drops and TV static

Feral seething manic

Sporadic flight paths

Weaving poly rhythms

Twining patterns

Wings chiming over through and round

Globes of schismed sound

Splashing mirage shimmers and breezes

As raindrops sneezing on djembe-skins

 

The dance of the swarm

Poured wistful warm

Adorned the awning of the ivy

In crystalline storms

Fistfuls of lightshaft

Clasped enblissed

‘pon carnivals of fire

Marvels of flight-shine

Enlivened in light

That parts the edge of day

And the timeless charting

Of fledgling stars

Painting entitled "Second Aria"

Second Aria (2010)

GOHST

The time I was praying cross-legged

In my room

An incense stick burning

On the wicker stool

By the mattress

As I was praying

I opened my eyes

To a single wisp of smoke

Floating fathomless before me

Its slender figure sliding and writhing tender

‘neath the butter flesh breaths

Of my lips

I realised my prayers

Were flickering

Through the incense

Dappling its timbre

Sloping its stems

Curves fleshed from my essence

As petals unfurling through

Camomile limbs

It struck me

The groans of my spirit

Taking physical states

As the smoulder billowed

On the moans of its marrow

Barren blushes

Furrowing the rush

Bones drawn in hush

Gowned warm in the taste

Swathed in sounds of my want

Wrapped round as swaddling cloth

Lacing nascent clouds

I became aware of every movement

Every patter of desire

Pleating the syllables of smoke

Floating as scrawled notes

Wrapped indelible

Through the rote of my spirit

Pirouetting flight

Of wisps light-borne

Reached willow and saffron

Past the sills of my eyes

Tides torn through winds

The metre of wings

Beating drafts through the ether

Drapes of the dawn

Bursting gasps

On the shores of my skin

The room doused heavy with fragrance

Flora auras sating the chorus

The need the heart-cry

Mire of earth soil of my womb

Crooning for seeds of Heaven’s fire

Where toil bleeds bloom of myrrh

Purrs the anguish to pearls

Felled fertile ‘pon fallow worlds

Depths hallowed through shallows bereft

Kisses left nesting in clefts of shadows

I sat draped in the grain

A motionless rain shower

Strained through the shape

Of source and matter

So my entire room was scattered

In patterns enticed

When light smatters passage

Between earth and paradise

Painting entitled "Third Aria"

Third Aria (2010)

S(WET)

The time I was walking

Through the forest

Surrounding the monastery

I was staying in

 

I came to a fork in my path

One way bringing stillness

The other a boundless roar

Pounding the very hush of my heart

 

I followed the sound to a wooden bridge

That overlooked a stretching lake

Between them

Poured a waterfall

Panting breathless

 

I stood there stalled

Pulled by the water

Enthralling my senses

To rest mesmerised

In its screaming gait

 

Watching

I made my eyes drop

At the same rate of the fall

Drinking for split seconds

The forms beckoned out from the foam

Mystical bodies

Inexpressible things

As though water

Travelling such speed

Ceases to reflect that of earth

But sculpts the faces and moulds

Of transcendental realms

 

Thus it swelled

Cascading and crashing

White clashing foam crushing close

Gushing cool-cold kisses

Kissed capricious crisp

Encroached through bliss and glint and gold

Crests of feathers

Cloud-clasped delicious

The rush of crowds

Clustered in hisses

Chrysanthemum petals

Creased in flusters

Where platinum wrestles

Fleeces of milk

Wings of snow angels coalesced

Flesh collapsed in glacial jewels

Crashed colossal

Chrome caressed

Splashed palatial

Constella wombs

Wombing stems of

Breath and essence

Increasing Elysium

In effervescence

Coliseum blending to spires capsized

As stalactites chimed

Through glockenspiel sighs

Swan flocks scything

Kaleidoscop-crops

Diving kamikaze

As spinning-tops

Skimming skin of

dropletrainbotic

Pocketing spray

The rain rejoices

Plunged and risen as glistened noises

Voices christened

In stories hoisted from hosts most moistened

By wet most whet

Set in chorus of castanets

Clapped cataclysmic

Splash-swept dash of cosmic districts

Flashed and flecked ecstatic fresh

Blessed and blithe

In high choir cries

Caressing trestles of classical heights

Brushing scalps of decibel mountains

Mounting fount crescendos flushed

Cumuli rush and crystal-cleansed

Creatia gasps caress the gusts

Blush the glass of Heaven’s lens

Mending the crevice

tween hearth and soul

Wetting the coals

Shoaling the lonely

Sweating the path

Clothing the lowly

Holy upon holy upon holy upon holy

 

As I looked up from the waterfall

A single white gull

Circled skywards

Climbing silent

The pining void

Of the lake

Copyright @ 2010 Sh’maya

In the final brush marks I surprised myself to find that the image of the white gull flying away at the end of the Third Aria, S(WET) had emerged accidentally in my painting at the top of the waterfall.  Since the pieces were all about the thin line between the spiritual and natural dimensions, this seemed a fitting end to the painting process.

I was looking at Renaissance paintings for inspiration in this triptych and the kinds of colours used in religious painting informed my palette.

The preview combined an art exhibition with poetry performances.

 

Abi Rach Hannah

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