I was invited back to Segedunum to see Y4 of Denbigh Community School again where they saw the finished mobile in place in the gallery. They gasped when they saw it and enjoyed locating their work in the final artwork. They stood and stared for ages as the ‘stones’ rotated in the air currents - fantastic! It is quite soothing just watching the pieces move and change.
I spent most of the day evaluating the project - listening to the young people, teachers and then the parents / carers who came to the museum in the afternoon, and collecting written responses. Evaluation is really important as this is the opportunity to reflect on how well everything has worked. The overwhelming feeling by all the groups is that this has been an excellent project and the school would love to work with me and the Segedunum learning team again. The project has been remembered very clearly by the two Y4 classes who evidenced this with some super recall as they shared the project with their parents. They also demonstrated their new art skills to their parents, teaching them how to work with and emboss the metal foil. The parents and Y4 then made gold foil leaves and embossed them, evidencing good learning and intergenerational skill-sharing. The leaves will become part of an installation at The Sill later in the year when we celebrate the end of Frontier Voices.
I encouraged the families to visit the other sites along the Wall and see some of the other art projects and I hope they will do this. The wildling head pot sneaked into Segedunum to see what was going on today - another sharing of Frontier Voices between the venues.
This was the final day at Arbeia. Over the last 3 half days, working with Y5 Hadrian’s Primary, we have explored the fort and museum, been inspired by the original Romans on the fort and have learned how to wet felt and needlefelt. Today was the day to bring all the skills together and to make individual head pots reflecting our identities. Creative assistant Clare was able to join us for the day which was great. It took all day, the education room floor had had a real wash with all the soap and water and by the end of it everyone was exhausted! Wet felting is very hard work and needs a lot of rubbing and rolling. However by the end of it we could see the designs were in a good pot-shape flat on the tables and one pot was standing up in its final form. I now will take them back to my studio to complete the shaping and return them to the school for their performance of the wedding scene in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ next week with the RSC Associates Schools programme at the Northern Stage in Newcastle. I am delighted that the outcome from Frontier Voices can be shared with another different audience on another Arts Council programme. After this the head pots will then be displayed in the museum at Arbeia until the end of November.
here to edit.
An early start for a Sunday saw us installing the mobile inspired by Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum Fort in Wallsend. The piece fills the right hand side of the Shrine of the Standards display. Everything went as planned and the 167 individual ‘stones' were installed quickly and efficiently. They are strung on fishing line in rows of 5 or 6, depending on their location - the ordering is vital so that the picture is correct. Each stone rotates about its vertical axis so either side can be seen as it rotates slowly. They are moving slowly in the air currents caused by visitors to the gallery. The shadows are dramatic on the wall and the shiny copper really gleams in the space. The spacing problems (5/6/22) were eventually sorted after a number of different solutions using bamboo spacers and wooden beads - very light and effective.
It was nice to see an old friend, still on display in the entrance atrium of Segedunum, from the Roman Cavalry project in 2017.
I am now back regularly at Heathlands Farm until the end of term, delivering a natural crafts course to a small group. We are experiencing the landscape and nature and participants will be creating small individual artworks such as natural weaving, felting mats and vessels using sheeps wool, and creating a sculptural piece inspired by spiders’ webs…..more to follow on this.
Two days spent at Houseteads Roman fort with Beaconside School. It is the Year 4s that I saw at Penrith & Eden Museum and they are enjoying a residential experience, staying at the Youth Hostel at The Sill. Weather fantastic - who wouldn’t want to spend time living in the fort here with blue sky and fluffy clouds and amazing views? It reminded me of very happy times making the artwork for the wellhead, part of the Roman Cavalry exhibition.
This link showcases all the artworks in the project.
With these 2 groups we looked at Roman ‘bling’ and the amazing Vindolanda horse chamfron. Each pupil created a design which they applied to a pleather chamfron base and added embossed metal foil decorations. It looked great as they walked down the hill to the bus all holding their designs by the ears so they could dry in the wind!
Teaching morning with my Abstract students - today we are looking at developing our final pieces for the term and preparing for end of term presentations. My acrylics students have now completed their basic skills and we are revising and consolidating making a number of paintings to complete the year.
Busy day - discussing possible ways of running our International projects which are settling down into different models - workshops where we make something that we can display or perhaps even visiting Hadrian’s Wall and a number of the artworks informing how this could be applied to heritage engagement in the Netherlands - a developing area for them. It is really exciting to do something here that has never been done before - into new public engagement territory!
The afternoon was spent at the Great North Museum: Hancock to complete the final install of ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’. This is a large installation set in the landscape of trees in the Roman Gallery. The lovely embossed metal identity tags have all been fixed to red lines of paracord, so with the aid of Alex (one of the installation crew) column heads were fixed in place, lines untangled and then positioned. Finishing touch is the lighting and how to best bring out the form, colour and sparkle. This was almost completed - install team will add a few more luminaires over the next week or so, ready for the official opening at the beginning of July. I can’t quite believe it - the first artwork is now completed and it feel good! Next stop design and write up the project for sharing in our ‘Spotlight’, display at the GNM.
Back to Arbeia again, but across the road at Hadrian’s Primary School, South Shields. Mrs Giles and Year 5 were really welcoming and we discussed the project in relation to UNESCO values, how the area had changed over time and that this fits really well with one of the topics the class are doing, where they are building a big timeline of changes in their area. It is great when one project dovetails so well in with other work, enriching the curriculum in such a meaningful way. We were asked if our headpots could be used in a drama production the class are doing with the Royal Shakespeare Company. This would be a great way for Y5 to share their fantastic designs with a wider audience and promote our project more widely. So watch this space!
Meanwhile the creative activities were underway and everyone learned how to dry felt or needlefelt using very sharp barbed needles to tangle the wool fibres to make 3D forms. These will be felted onto their headpots, emphasising their identity which is shown through headphones, amazing hairstyles, headwear, as well as other features. They quickly learned how to use the needles safely and had a lot of fun!
Returned to Cumbria via The Sill. This is the Northumberland National Park’s building set in the landscape of the Whin Sill near Vindolanda. I am here to see and discuss the spaces and sites for the end-of-project exhibition in December and January. Here we will showcase all the amazing creative work that everyone has done on the project Frontier Voices May - December - celebrating 1900 years since the Wall was built. The exhibition is going to be using all the building weaving our work through the permanent exhibition and in locations round the building culminating in a super installation in gold and red in the cafe - inspired by ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’, our installation at the Great North Museum.
I love the Roman reconstructions at Arbeia. They make it so easy to visualise what the fort would have looked like 1900 years ago.
Leslie and Beth are part of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums service and they worked hard to make it a super day. We had a sensory tour of the fort followed by artefact handling with curator Alex Croom who identified objects that were named and so belonged to actual Frontier Voices living at Arbeia in Roman times. Soldiers named their bowls, initials were also found and even evidence of dogs who left footprints in wet tiles before they were fired at the kiln within the fort. After this Y5 then interrogated individual artefacts and discussed these which provided evidence of different animals (bones), a beautiful carved bone hairpin which tells us that there were affluent women present, along with glass bottles, evidence of pottery etc. In the area round the fort there would have been sheep, which would have provided both fibres for spinning and felting as well as meat. In York, evidence of headpots made by African soldier potters showed real faces; for example the face of Severus’ wife Julie Domna from Syria. This idea inspired us to look at our own identities - how we see ourselves and we feel is important to us - and then we will create headpots made of felted wool instead of clay, which could be displayed in the Arbeia Museum. We then selected a suitable part of the museum for our display.
We started making some pre-felt using a wet felting technique using bubblewrap and a pool noodle - both of which can be re-used multiple times, as I move towards more sustainable Arts methods with large groups of participants
Abstracts for Improvers - exploring the work of Jackson Pollock made a change from the Frontier Voices project and challenged my adult learners to see the artist in a different way and how they could be inspired by this. They also declared their research topics for this term which are covering a wide range of interests.
Project meeting number 2 with all the team evidencing that we have made a good start to the project and such a lot done!