Family Portrait - Family Showcase is a community project for families living in Westminster. The first sessions took place in April and May 2015 at the Beethoven Centre. These initial sessions at the community centre in Queens Park have been documented below, and have been used as a toolkit for participants to continue with the creative activities at home.
A second workshop series took place during July and August 2016 at The Showroom, with a group of new participants who all live around the Church Street area. Most had not previously been at the gallery but have through the project discovered its amazing art programme right at their doorstep. The workshops culminated in a public sharing with an opportunity to socialise and network over lunch.
April - May 2015 at Beethoven Centre
24 May 2015
In our final workshop we returned to and developed a task from our first workshop. We decided to all work together to make a large group drawing. We wanted to make a sculpture that could be used to create movement.
- A long cardboard sheet is rolled out on the floor. A few people move slowly across the sheet while the others draw around any contact the dancers make with the floor, and add anything they like to these marks.
- We created 2 drawings. In the first drawing we used coloured chalk and pastels. In the second drawing we used different types of black charcoal.
- Once completed we stood the cardboard up, making wave shapes in the space.
Materials: Corrugated cardboard, chalk, pastels, charcoal
Everyone seemed to agree that the charcoal drawing was much more successful. The charcoal allowed us to draw much quicker and to create contrasting marks on the cardboard. Larger areas could be filled in quicker and with differring intensities, so that the people dancing and drawing stayed in closer contact. Surpisingly the black and white drawing was much more fun to make and to look at then the colour drawing.
It was a bit tricky at first to get the cardboard to stand freely in the space, but once achieved, this looked amazing. It was the perfect height to move through and to look for hiding places in the little curved areas that the cardboard naturally creates. We wanted to creep through it slowly, but the temptation to push it over was great, not just for the children. After a few attempts Raquel, one of the participants, had a great idea. She suggested to walk through together, all holding hands. We could have done this forever, looking at all the shapes and trying to remember who did what earlier on. But as always we ran out of time. This sculptural element is definitely something we want to develop further.
Juan and me got so many ideas from working with the beautiful and creative people who participated in this project. We hope to be back again at the Beethoven Centre in the autumn. So watch this space!
17 May 2015
In this session we made our own templates to create large colourful repetitive patterns.
We started with a physical warm up, as part of which everyone learnt a short dance phrase. This included falling, balancing, jumping and turning following a set pathway. Everyone picked this up so quickly!
We then continued in small groups to make the templates. We played with the learnt movements, adding on our own and focusing on the different kinds of imprints our feet make when shifting weight.
- Step onto the sketching paper. Concentrate on the different ways you are using your feet. You can use one of your partners to help you explore more risky balances, while someone else traces the outlines of your feet. You will end up with lots of interesting shapes on the paper, some of which will and some won't be recognisable as foot imprints.
- Cut out the shapes
- Colour the edges of the shapes using chalk, then place your template on your large drawing paper and rub the chalk on the edge of your template over onto your final paper. Repeat this process to create any pattern you like, using and reusing your cut outs. You can experiment with colours, overlaps, sequences, symmetries or anything else.
Materials: Chalk, pencils, scissors, small and large sheets of paper, hairspray to fix the chalk.
This process involved several steps to arrive at the final result, which was probably one of the most sophisticated projects we have done so far. It was exciting to see the many imaginative and beautiful works that came out of this session. It was also great to see how much the younger children stayed involved in this, maybe because each step in itself had elements - balancing, tracing, cutting, colouring in, rubbing the colour with your fingers- that appealed and could easily be adapted.
10 May 2015
Lots of new people came this week again, which was fantastic. Our idea for this week was to draw with wool, 3D in the space and 2D on paper.
- In a big group circle pass the wool to create a spider web for individuals to move through
- In small groups create a simple movement sequence, then each person freezes at a different moment of this sequence. Connect and stretch the wool between people's hands and feet to show the movement trajectories.
- In a big group draw patterns on a large paper and place the thread on top, let the wool stretch away from the drawing and away from the paper, attach it to nearby objects to turn the drawing into a sculpture.
Materials: Wool, colour pencils, felt pens
Being so many people it seemed natural to work in a big group. Drawing with the wool proofed to be quite complex and required a lot of concentration. It took a some patient teamwork to figure out how to hold positions and to stretch the wool to be really able to show the lines through the space. Similarly it required a lot of concentration to fold the wool so it matches the intricate and detailed drawings on the paper. Its quite a difficult material, and it seemed less spontaneous compared to the charcoal and chalk drawings we did in the previous sessions. However, after a while some truly beautiful images emerged.
3 May 2015
Thanks to the participants' efforts to advertise the project, we had some new people in the session, which was great. We experimented with some ideas around creating symmetries .
- Create symmetry between two people by mirroring each other, first follow each other's movements, then transfer this onto paper by following each other drawing.
- Create symmetry within our own body, by drawing with both hands simultaneously. Take turns to create a collaborative drawing.
Materials: Large paper roll, charcoal, colour pencils, crayons and pastels.
Working within families and with friends, some beautiful collaborative drawings emerged with ease.
27 April 2015
What a great first session at the Beethoven Centre yesterday! Everyone worked within their family and also across different groups. After a quick physical warm up, most of our time was spent on our main task, to capture each other's movements.
One person takes on the role of the dancer, traveling across the cardboard sheet, on the floor and across the wall. The others draw around the dancer's out-line and follow the movement directions. They also help the dancer to get into and out of positions and to press parts of the body against the cardboard to make imprints. Take turns.
Materials: Corrugated Card Board, Chalk, Pastels, Hairspray
The group generated lots of creative ideas and personal interpretations, which we will develop further over the weeks to come.
20 April 2015
One week to go, and Juan and me are very excited about our upcoming project 'Family Portrait' at the Beethoven Centre. We are looking forwards to meeting the families and to exploring new creative ideas together! We have been busy planning, buying and having a play with all the art materials and arranging final details for Sunday, not to forget tea, coffee and refreshments to keep us all going.
Family Portrait - Family Showcase