Durham University Art School Prize 2020/2021 Heroism

I recently did a talk for Durham University’s Summer in the City Festival Art Prize Art School event talking about the minority suffragettes in British History who helped pave the way to women being able to vote. It was a great few weeks seeing all the different talks and discussing what heroism means to so many people. Super excited about being a judge for the Durham University’s Art School Prize for 2020/2021 too!

The talks (including the one for Minority Suffragettes), workshops & activities can be found here: https://sitcfestival.org/art-prize-art-school/

Create at Home: Online Workshop

In these unprecedented times of the pandemic, moving most resources like teaching tools online and the popularity of workshops has increased.

Whereas my workshops would have been taught in person, with groups in a large room, it’s given me pause to change the methodology and format. For example, you can’t have one to ones with people who ask questions or a demonstration, but you can press pause and rewind a video and leave comments on some platforms.

So most recently I created a workshop for Durham’s ‘Summer in the City Festival’ , using a time lapse as a playful introduction to materials you have at home. My aim was to leave the resources as universal; materials any level of practitioner could use, and any age range could join in with. For this reason I chose ’Natural Ingredients’, ’Food Colouring’ and ’Pens’. Natural Ingredients included berries, tea, coffee, red cabbage in rice vinegar (But ideally was not limited to these resources, as some flowers, vegetables, or other foods could have a use). Food colouring was liquid based, and though I had a pack of 12, I reduced these to six more primary colours. The use of which was very similar to watercolour yet non toxic. Lastly I added more office based pens, such as biros, highlighters, explaining brushes, sponges and other things you could use. With the three free templates of Durham Designs including a cityscape, teacup, and can of soup, it became a supplement to an imaginative colouring exercise as well as a relaxing introduction of how to create your own imagery.

Using lighting and props in my bedroom as opposed to my studio, felt like a throwback to University where I would often bring camera and equipment home. When it eventually came with me on a journey from Edinburgh to Newcastle for the weekend. With this DIY version, I shot most of the video downwards facing a white table, with two lights on either side as a basic set up. I wanted the video to be as clear and clean cut as possible so used a white backdrop / c stand for the shot of myself explaining the concept.

I even created a stop motion animation as a quick introduction to the materials I would be using. The stop motion animal didn’t take long, nor was it as arduous as some people may expect. With software and apps these days it’s fairly easy.

Replacing the human element to workshops isn’t easy however, and I hope that my next few workshops are sufficiently explanatory in their role to instruct different aspects of painting or illustration. Most likely I’ll be using more text based animation, slow motions of brush strokes and (fingers crossed) more space if the studio reopens. In any case I couldn’t be more glad a degree in Photography and Film paid off, as strange as it is during this time.

Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments, what do you think about online workshops, and have you participated in any during lockdown ?

To access Creative Home and other fantastic workshops from talented artists around the North East follow this link: https://sitcfestival.org/