Who Cares? Whitworth Art

This is another room worked jointly on by myself and Lucy Burscough. We needed to do something quick which was associated with the museum and would remind the children of their handling session. The images we used were taken at the session and have been edited on photoshop to make them wild and playful.

Room before:

Room after:

I was very happy with the end results at Galaxy, the Young people did really well to finish in time and some of the pieces were very exciting!The idea of planning and experimenting before choosing a final piece was hard for some which was why I was so impressed with some of the finished sketch books (see below) and proud of what had been achieved.

And the finished piece:

The idea of making mini theatre/shadow sets caught on with many:

(waves move when you pull the stick!)

The idea of fairytales was introduced in the first lesson which is why I think this story came into the YPs head! She said it wasn’t intended to be Noah’s Ark but just a colourful scene and a chance to depict animals. For year 7, I was particuarly impressed by this pieces as well as the ‘Theatre of Shadows’ below.

The sketchbook for this piece was very well done.

Both of these young people took into consideration everything I showed them: the idea of narrative, puppetry and silhouettes. They learnt a lot and were a pleasure to teach. This has been reflected in the level of their work: they were both marked at a Level 6 (which is of a great standard for year 7).

(manual movement: scene of a family walking in the woods to be surprised by a passing deer)

Using the story of Hansel and Gretal:

Other pieces that were produced were not quite finished mostly due to missed lessons. However, I am still very happy with the results. They have different interpretations of the themes which is great.



So these are the pictures of the progressing work in Galaxy’s observation room. Inspired by a handling session that the YP took part in with the Manchester Museum’s reptiles, the scene depicts a chameleon hiding amongst tropical leaves. The paper used to collage the leaves and the reptile was marbled by residents of Galaxy House in two 1 hour workshops, and then enlarged for use on the wall.

I want to first post some pictures of the children’s sketch books and current work on the ‘Dark Matters’ module. The assignment is going well as its’ versatility means each child can be individual (re: their levels and their ideas). Some children are responding particularly well and they all have developed different responses to the subject of narrative & shadow in art.


Abstract shapes and animals

Cityscape/landmark/Twin Towers

The continued work is beggining to look really exciting!

For the Tropical Room project, I ran another marbling workshop. Knowing what to expect from the children available and their attitudes to Friday afternoon activities, I was able to approach it more effectively and involved a couple different children. Instead of offering a range of experiments, I kept the activity focussed and made it clear that the marbling was for a purpose and this purpose required only certain colours (greens-no reds or large amounts of gold- for leaves on a wall). Session worked well and I managed to get some good pieces from the children which I hope to enlarge to use for the final collage.

The children have commented a few times how they may not all see the work in the meeting rooms so I would like to use a future Friday afternoon to invite children to help me paint the wall in sections. Having in the past helped to paint the signs at Platt Fields Park, I wanted to use similar paints and style as the signs below as I think this is a good style for people to help with.


Writing this now, having started, I think the style is going to differ from these as we have chosen to use more textured filling. This is partly due to the effect of the acrylic paint we have and it is also hard to paint a solid colour when the wall surface has not been prepared.  However, so far it is looking good and  it seems appropriate to have texture in a rainforest scene. I will still keep the black outline to give a similar graffic effect and hopefully it will still be possible for some children to come and help even though some elements of my design are more intricate.

Next time I will post images of the wall in progress!

Last week, I arranged for the children from the residential hospital ward to come and see the exhibition. The visit was preliminary to their study of Shadow Play in school (focus being on narrative and time) while it also provided an outing for them during their half term holiday. I made worksheets which aimed to help them focus on the idea of past, present, future and how certain work’s in the Dark Matter’s exhibition represent different aspects of time. Most of the children seemed to grasp this idea well including an obvious 3 who were highly engaged.  However, there were a few who were either easily distracted or unwell which were quite difficult to work with. Obviously, this is natural even when working with kids who are mentally well but I found it difficult to know how to divide my attention: I didn’t want to ignore the children who weren’t interacting but I also wanted to make sure that the children who were engaged could get good feedback with the task.  I think I managed this OK though and everyone, minus one, managed to complete the task ready for their first school lesson.

Following this, another visit was arranged – for them to come to the shadow lab and work interactively with the resources at the gallery. With other groups, it probably would’ve been possible to do both visits in one but, with this group time is limited due to concentration and individual appointments. I however, thought this worked quite well, as they were able to see the gallery in two different contexts and also with two different groups of staff: during half term, the nursing staff and during school time, the teachers. The second visit yesterday, I felt went well as the teachers were able to help keep each child more effectively engaged. Perhaps it was also the type of task and also the fact that many children just find going round gallery’s boring. Surprisingly, the two girls who found it most hard to engage the first time round, interacted the most with the facilities in the lab (another positive for going on two different occasions). Going back to class with them, I introduced a lesson of experimentation with different collaging materials to create an image/shadow reflection (based on a book by Suzy Lee which was provided in the shadow lab). This went really well – surprisingly more so with the younger kids (which is something I will have to think about for next time).

Shadow by Suzy Lee

I thought this book would be a good starting point for the kids to experiement with scenes and each object’s shadow. It is also a good example of a book which tells a simple story without words: the little girl starts off playing in a room of objects and gradually her imagination grows and the shadows start to develop a life of their own.



This week I spent a day shadowing a couple of the teaching staff at the hospital school. They were teaching English and Science so not directly art based but the experience let me learn more about the patients (some of which are long term so I would see again) and what activities might be appropriate for them. This week I plan to look through the hospital’s art cupboard to see what kind of activities I could do and to understand exactly what my role will be for each Tuesday I am there. I do enjoy simple teaching but I figure I should use the opportunity to get more focussed experience at this time in my career – arts and craft based. Being able to make up activities will also give me more independence, ultimately making me feel more confident. I also want to feel useful so this will give me a direct way to input. I have to remind myself though, not to offer too much as I have got a lot of other things on (plus am only one day a week at the hospital)!
Briefly, I must refer to having been given a tour of the Whitworth’s Dark Matters exhibit by the Curator, Helen Stalker. This was a great experience as an art student (and I didn’t actually realise that even members of the public can ask to have this?!) I learnt a lot more about the exhibition and in particular, certain pieces which I hope to use in my art classes with Galaxy. I am particularly interested in Daniel Rozin’s interactive, exploratory ‘Snow Mirror’ and Brass Art’s mystical installation ‘Still Life No 1’ which relies upon the dark and light to explore textures and the way in which shadows can tell stories/appear fantastical/unnerving.
Snow Mirror
Brass Art
Apart from that, this Wednesday, instead of working at Galaxy, I joined a training session which Wendy was running to recruit new volunteers. I enjoyed my role as a casual assistant to Wendy and most of all I got to take part in animal touching and poetry workshops! These were great as I now have a better understanding of what experiences the children at Galaxy have had – and also of course what being in a partnership with the museum and gallery can offer. In the animal workshop, I got to hold a live snake! Would’ve loved a longer session with more animals! Andrew Gray (who ran the session) was great – I was really shocked by the ‘surprise’ at the end (can’t give it away I’m afraid – you’ll have to book in a visit)! We also got to practice making butterflies with Lucy – an activity which is going to be done with lots of different patients by the mentors.
On Friday, I ran my first workshop at Galaxy – trying to gather materials and inspiration for the interview room I will be transforming. I felt a little disappointed by the turn out and enthusiasm for this. I was warned that not many children would take part but from my experience working with the kids in class time, I did think there would be some more enthusiasm. Of course, with school it is compulsory plus anything different to the norm is probably going to be received well! I have realised also that for them, being in the ward as suppose to the school, they are distracted – almost surrounded by their illness (not just metaphorically but also as there are social workers, nurses and check-ups). I was also unfortunate as a lot of the kids go home on Fridays and the ones who are left are mostly the ones who aren’t well enough which is another barrier. Having said all this, I got two girls to take part and they made a few marbled sheets – but just had a limited attention span. Due to this, next time I will take big sheets and set up the activity so that lots of marbled paper can be made quickly and for the purpose I have in mind. I will still encourage suggestions and try to probe their interest in the project but failing that, I figure this way I will still have resources which I can go forward with. Perhaps I could also arrange a different time to do an activity with them.
I have just started a placement with Wendy Gallagher (Arts and Health Co-ordinator) at The Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. My placement encompasses a number of different areas – within The Whitworth Gallery, The Manchester Museum and the Manchester Children’s Hospital. Due to the gallery and the museum being under the ‘umbrella’ of Manchester university – recently, the two have combined meaning many staff now work between the two. This is great as it means I get to work very diversely and can ‘network’ with a number of different people. Wendy has developed a partnership with the hospital – in particular, the residential psychiatric children’s ward which here, I will refer to as ‘Galaxy’. Having all these places to work between, the first few weeks have been very busy! I think it’s a really good role for me as I love to do lots of different things and am known to be always moving! (Talking of moving, walking between the three institutions is going to keep me fit!!)


I have a few different roles and responsibilities, including being a teaching assistant for a residential school: where I will be planning and leading a teaching module inspired by the Dark Matters exhibition. I will also be helping with general admin tasks, research on the collection within The Whitworth and be painting a wall mural to help ‘heal the hospital environment’.
I will be writing a blog for Wendy each week so you can follow my role! Here is the first installment (and due to technical problems the first couple of weeks will also follow today!)


Blog 10/10/11
This is my first blog as an Intern with Wendy Gallagher at the Whitworth Gallery. My first two weeks have been an interesting introduction to Arts and Health.
I have been able to explore both the gallery and the museum to inspire a programme of study – of which I have been given the lead on – at the Children’s hospital.
Part of this exploration was going on a tour with the curator of the current Dark Matters show in The Whitworth. I will be using certain pieces from this show as starting points for their art focus in classes after half term. It was good to have a bit more knowledge about the show and specific works. It has given me a lot to think about in terms of how I angle the programme of study. Which pieces do I pick? How many should have main focus? How will I ensure that it is not too directed and that the young people are still able to be creative and individual?
Alongside this, I have begun researching composition and materials for a revamp I will be part of in one of the meeting rooms in Galaxy house. By doing this, I will be part of the initiative to ‘Heal the Hospital Environment’. Wanting to follow a tropical rainforest theme, I plan to explore colours, shapes and layering in a vibrant way – with the starting point of paper marbling. The aim of the project is to make the meeting room warm, friendly and less sterile. I am keen to get the young people staying in the centre involved (as after all they are ultimately the users of this space) and ideally I would like some of their work to be directly part of the display, not just inspiring a mural. To do this, I plan to start with the playful activity of ink lifting as a warm up exercise to using the marbled result as inspiration for further designs/furnishings and/or for use as a collage within a wall mural. I am yet to experiment how a collaging technique will work (keeping the shape of the leaf and looking professional) and if this doesn’t work, I have planned other inclusive activities e.g. making tropical animals out of clay for display, experimenting with beads, wire, and soft furnishings.
As this is my first time working with others on an inclusive art project, I have to keep reminding myself to keep the idea flexible to allow for ideas and inspiration from the children and their work. I also have to bear in mind the capability and levels of the children involved, including what areas of art they enjoy doing. I plan to discuss any ideas I have for both projects with staff in the hospital, Wendy and artist Lucy Burscough before going ahead to ensure the above happens.
Next week, I will post images from the ink lifting session with more info on any changed plans!

Twitter Updates