The AccessArt Village and How a Small Idea can be Big
This AccessArt workshop was led by Sheila Ceccarelli for year nine students at Frances Bardsley Academy in Romford, where the The AccessArt Village was displayed in the school's adjacent Brentwood Road Gallery, in January 2018.
Introducing the AccessArt Village
Sheila had a day in the gallery and the chance to meet, talk and work with the students.
She wanted to create a workshop experience which replicated, symbolically, the core messages transmitted by the AccessArt Village. Not only the, already poignant idea of 'home,' evoked by this stunning collection of sewn houses clustered together, but also the idea of creative individuals forming a whole community. Sheila also highlighted the physical journey that the Village had already made.
Paula Briggs had sent an idea 'out there,' after a donation of wool from Appletons Wool, that members of the AccessArt community, might want to create a 'sewn drawing of their home' with the donated wool. Sheila told students that this was the first lesson to be learnt from the AccessArt Village: that "every idea is important, and it is worth trusting in even the smallest idea, and allowing it time to grow."
The houses had been sewn by people, of all walks of life, and ages, in schools, hospitals, galleries and more, all over the country and beyond. They had then been parcelled up and sent to Paula's house in Cambridgeshire where they had been collected by artist Andrea Butler, and painstakingly mounted, to create the installation sitting before the students in the gallery. By now, the AccessArt Village had travelled from Farfield Mill, in the rolling hills of Cumbria, to Mansfield Central Library, in the heart of the country, down to this sub-urban setting, east of London, in Brentwood Road Gallery, Frances Bardsley School, Romford.
Students considered how powerful it was that each one of these pieces had been created by an individual - in a creative moment, and all those many creative moments had been brought together, to create a whole piece of work.
This project is about individual creativity, being a part of a whole community, and the power of just one idea.
Working alone and lines unfolding
This workshop was for year nine Art students and was 45 minutes long.
We had large sheets of A1 cartridge paper, sharpies, felt tip pens, and scissors.
Students enjoyed looking at the AccessArt Village in the gallery space and then were asked to find a space, a piece of paper and a few pens.
This section of the workshop was about taking in and absorbing the individual houses in the Village, contemplating the stitches made and travelled. It was about working alone and the unfolding of private, individual, unexpected acts of creativity.
Students were guided in their drawing and asked to make a line, any line, inspired by stitches and as though sewn through the paper. They were asked to imagine sewing and the rhythm of stitches to be reflected in the marks that they made; to make long, or short stitches with different 'tensions' and 'thickness of thread,' and to yield the marks easily across the paper. They were encouraged not to be self-conscious, to trust, to be imaginative in the marks that they made, and let the patterns on the paper unfold.
As the workshop progressed students became bolder and more confident in the marks they made and patterns started to emerge.
Cutting out just one shape
Students were then asked to look at their patterns and contemplate what they had created. They were given scissors and asked to cut out just one shape from their design.
Working together and creating a group narrative
Thank you to Frances Bardsley Academy
Staff at Frances Bardsley Academy have been members of AccessArt for several years and have participated in many AccessArt projects, as well as used our resources, to support their already outstanding teaching of Art. Lisa Walker, curator of the gallery, picked up on the AccessArt Village Project, and ran several of her own Brilliant Makers sessions, for younger students at the school, to make a hand sewn 'drawings' of their home. AccessArt was delighted when Lisa nominated Brentwood Road Gallery as a venue to host the Village.
Many thanks to Lisa Walker for coordinating the AccessArt Village at Brentwood Road Gallery and to the students at Frances Bardsley's Brilliant Makers Club for their contribution to the project.
Many thanks also to Jacinta Appleby – Head of Visual Art and ‘Lead practitioner for Creativity,’ at the Frances Bardsley Academy, for her role in facilitating the AccessArt Village at Brentwood Road Gallery.
And thank you to Brilliant Makers from Lisa’s lunchtime Art club in the gallery, for their contributions to the AccessArt Village.
Many thanks to all the students who participated in the workshop above and for sharing their processes with AccessArt.
You can read more about the exhibition in the gallery and see more photographs of it here.
The AccessArt Village, including this workshop and the tour, has been coordinated and delivered by #TeamAccessArt on a voluntary basis with no core or revenue funding.
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See how primary school pupils responded to the AccessArt Village in Mansfield Central Library
This was a very special day for Sheila Ceccarelli from AccessArt, as she got to meet and work with sixty, year five pupils from Berry Hill Primary School in Mansfield Central Library, with colleagues from Inspire Arts Service, who had previously facilitated the development of the AccessArt Village across Nottinghamshire.