Monday, 26 November 2012

SGS Explorers - Hydrotherapy Arts Project

Earlier this year Gifted and Talented Sale Grammar School students in Year 9 and 10 were commissioned by Lime, one of our Trust partners, to produce art work for the Hydrotherapy Arts Project at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.  The Therapy and Dietetic Department was in the process of being refurbished by Lime artists. The overall theme was based around the idea of journeys and sea voyages to reflect both the funding from Thomas Cook children’s charity and the hydrotherapy area within the unit.

The Secret Treasure Map that the explorers are next to is by Dawn Prescott and located in the Waiting Room of the Main Reception Area

Lime took inspiration from Thomas Cook’s round the world tours and aimed ‘to create a sense of journey of discovery and wonder for everyone who visits and works in the Therapy and Dietetic Department’. The theme runs throughout the unit and art work was especially created for corridors and changing areas to treatment rooms and the pool.

Our students were given the brief of creating art work for the waiting room and treatment areas. The work had to be suitable for the patient age group (1-16) and fit into a small box frame. I decided to tackle the brief by showing students the work of folk artists such as Julie Arkell, and challenging them to make an ‘explorer’ each. The students worked on the projects on several Saturdays from January to March, starting off with a wire and papier mache base and ending with stitched or knitted costumes. Each explorer was mounted on top of a map inside the box frames. The students also produced an account of the journey that their individual explorer was taking. The resulting accounts are humorous and imaginative.

The students’ work is absolutely outstanding and sits very comfortably with the commissioned pieces by artists Helen Kitchen, Brian Chapman, Rob Vale and Dawn Prescott. The project has afforded students the unique opportunity of a live commission and has made a significant contribution to our local community. It is now a bright, fun and interactive environment for all users of the unit– from patients to staff. You can see an overview of the transformation of the unit by clicking here.

‘A Moveable Feast’ - Animation Project

‘A Moveable Feast’ - Animation project on Pearce Ward

Community Arts Coordinator, Clare Taylor and talented KS5 student, Meg worked with patients on Pearce Ward at Wythenshawe Hospital over three afternoons in October to produce a simple animated recipe. Pearce Ward is a recently refurbished and specially designed unit for inpatient Cystic Fibrosis patients. All patients are cared for in separate single rooms. The project was organised in conjunction with Helen Kitchen from Lime, one of Sale Grammar School’s Trust Partners.

We chose to focus on a quick and easy recipe, selecting fruit to work with as it is bright and vibrant. You may notice that the tray, plate and cutlery appear in every shot on the animation, this was to overcome the problem of continuity when we moved rooms to work with different patients. The photographs were then uploaded and edited back at school using Adobe Premiere Pro (thanks Mr W!).

Patients worked as animators on the stop motion film, painstakingly moving the plasticine fruit and magnetic letters for each section of the recipe. Meg, a budding animator, was hard at work behind the camera. I think it is fair to say that the sessions were a welcome break in patients’ treatment programmes. It was fantastic to see enthusiastic staff on the ward getting involved in the project by modelling fruit for the recipe. I was very impressed with the creativity of everyone that was involved. It seems that plasticine is irresistible to all age groups! You can see the completed animation ‘Fresh Fruit Salad’ here.

You might also wish to see ‘CrimeScene’ (scroll down page). The models were created by a patient who was in for a few weeks for treatment. Crime Scene is a gruesome yet imaginative animation where police (acted here by oranges) investigate the murder of the pineapple! Can you spot the villain?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hong Kong - Inspiration and thoughts

On a cold crisp afternoon at the end of October we jetted off to the bright, bustling city of Hong Kong for our honeymoon. Hong Kong is an incredible city that immediately assaults all of your senses. Delicious smells waft from small cafes on side streets, shop signs flash and vehicles constantly sound their horns. It is an exciting city of contrasts, one minute you can be in the super sterile and shiny environment of the Landmark building accessed by one of the overground walkways and the next you’re back in the street looking at row upon row of street vendors with their packed and varied displays.

We were lucky enough to stay in the stylish and contemporary Hotel Icon in Kowloon. Everything in the hotel has been thoughtfully designed, from the staff uniforms made from lemon coloured broderie anglaise through to the living vertical garden bursting with luscious foliage in the main reception area. The staff were incredibly friendly, discreetly attentive and always welcoming.  Our room was as chic as it had looked online and had a stunning view of the harbour. It was a real treat to sit at the window each night watching the world go by before we went out.

One of the star attractions of our trip to Hong Kong was the Star Ferry. It was outrageously cheap at $2.50 (which works out at just 20 pence per journey) and enabled us to experience a key part of Hong Kong’s history. From aboard the Star Ferry you get a fantastic view of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, both with skyscrapers stretching out into the distance as far as the eye can see.

The diverse street markets in Hong Kong are not to be missed. One of the markets we visited was Yuen Po Street Bird Market as I have a huge love of our feathered friends. This market was captivating and horrifying at the same time. In essence, it was a high rise city of birds. Cages and cages of beautiful birds were piled high on top of one another next to stalls selling gauze bags of live, writhing insects. I suppose there’s nothing like fresh food to eat! At the same time, groups of men gathered at the edges of this market to show off their birds in ornate wooden cages. Another market experience not to be missed is Bowrington Road in Wanchai. This is full of live fish produce complete with macabre string tied parcels of live crabs arranged in neat rows. As a westerner, I’m used to buying dead vacuum packed ingredients for my dinner and I struggled with the honesty of buying super fresh food to eat. Aside from the gruesome purchases, I found the markets to be one of the most fascinating experiences of our time in Hong Kong.

Lan Kwai Fong in Central on Hong Kong Island was the venue for the best Halloween party we’ve ever been to. The area is a well-known place for partying and eating out and it didn’t disappoint. I absolutely love Halloween and was really excited to find out about this event. We made a token effort to dress up buying hats and having our make-up done – not realising just how big this event was going to be. It was huge, to the point where the police cordoned off the area to aid crowd control. We had such a great time and met people from Ecuador to Nepal.  I can honestly say that I have never had my photograph taken so many times on one night, the plentiful beer certainly helped to get me in the mood for ghoulish poses! If you love Halloween this should be high on your list of places to visit.

On our only rainy day we decided to visit The Hong Kong Museum of Art in Tsim Sha Tsui. This vast museum is situated in a prime waterfront location near to the popular Avenue of Stars. At night, the views of the Symphony of Lights are spectacular from here. Our favourite galleries by far were entitled “Cruising the Universe: Fantastic Animals in the Arts of China” and “Gems of Chinese Ceramics from the Hong Kong Museum of Art”. Short snappy titles are obviously not the norm here! These exhibitions featured a fabulous range of artefacts ranging from tomb guardians and beast shaped urinals to an exquisite ceramic pillow in the form of a tiger.

After the museum we took the metro to Shek Kip Mei to see the JockeyClub Creative Arts Centre (JCCAC). This centre was once a factory building housing small cottage industries. The building has been renovated and is now home to various artists and arts organisations. It is a hub of creative activity and arts festivals, exhibitions and performances are regularly held there. For me, it was interesting to see creative practice at work in another country. I’d love a studio space here!

Hong Kong is amazing. We were both really sad to board the plane home. I loved soaking up all the different sights and sounds and hope that it will provide inspiration for a new body of work.