Susie is a Play and Learn Assistant at Nottingham Contemporary. Here she tells us the inspiration and planning behind her workshops.
The activities for the Play and Learn workshops are always inspired by the exhibition. It could be one particular piece, the materials used by the artist, a general theme, or anything in between. Taking inspiration from the shared theme of Francis Upritchard and Alfred Kubin's exhibitions, my next workshop will be to create 'Fantastical Creatures', but not from any normal craft resources - we will be using different types of clothing. As Francis Uprichard has created a sloth with leather glove hands and feet, and monkeys using old fur coats, I thought this would be a great idea to explore with families and see what could be created. The possibilities are huge - as could be the creations!
I have been sourcing materials for several weeks, acquiring clothing and textiles. Last month I went to Playworks (a fantastic place for materials http://www.playworks.org.uk/) to get some resources for another Play and Learn workshop I was running. Whilst there I discovered a huge quantity of socks, brand new, but factory seconds as they were unfinished at the tops. I don't think anyone has ever been as excited as me to discover a barrel of faulty socks! I came away with a carrier bag full, feeling very happy. It will be exciting to see how these socks are used. I am hoping that the Fantastical Creatures workshop will produce animals that may be soaring through the air, or slithering along the ground and transform the room into a magical realm. I love seeing how families take an idea and then using their own inspiration and interests make something personal and unique. Each family who joins in makes something very different to the next. It's always interesting to see the differences in interpretation in pieces of work that had the same starting point. I've planned the layout of the room, in order to display peoples creatures in the best way. The Studio has lots of pipes and ducting running across the ceiling. This affects how they and others interact with it over the weekend. Having things hanging from the ducting above so the activity has an immersive feel to it always looks great. The only problem I find is that the pipes are at differing heights, and parts are difficult to reach. Getting things up, and down again at the end, can be a challenge.
Personally, I discovered the Contemporary one very cold Light Night, when I wondered in out of the rain with my family, and a Russian Cosmonaut thought we were all called Borris. (I later realised this was part of the Star City exhibition!) I knew nothing about contemporary art, but the place seemed really interesting. I returned a few times to the Play and Learn family sessions and really enjoyed them, so when I found there was a 10 week course called 'In 2 Art' for parents (with a crèche provided for pre-schoolers) being run by Associate Artist, Chris Lewis-Jones, I signed up. The 10 weeks went by far too quickly, I learnt a lot, met a lot of lovely people, artists and other parents, and greatly enjoyed the whole experience. It was at this time that I saw the Contemporary was looking for people to run the Play and Learn sessions. (Before leaving work to look after my family I had been a children’s Playworker.) Surely this was too good to be true?! I was so excited to get the job, as it combines so many things I enjoy. As part of the Play and Learn team I have been planning and implementing and enjoying workshops for nearly 18 months. I can't wait until my next one!