Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Mosaic Work Started.

I have followed the route with the highways department and agreed the sites for the mosaic markers. Plans have changed since the original proposal was agreed and most of these mosaic markers will now be embeded into granite kerb stones. These have been lying idle in a council depot for yonks and now will be re-claimed and stood upright at the agreed places. These making rather nice trail markers, one of my next tasks is to modify my designs to fit a tall thin shape, the other is to start mosaic work on two rocks.

kerbs in the council depot
a rock before working on it.

I have finished one rock but my workshop is so cold the quick drying cement I used is still wet the following day!....making handling these things very difficult, I have been bringing the rock into my home at night time (a bit like putting a child to bed) where it is warmer so as to speed up the drying time.

Portrait of Anne Pratt. She was a Victorian Botanist as I explained in an earlier post.
(work in progress) adapted drom a drawing by a primary school pupil.
My next rock will be wild flowers and I will start that tomorrow.

Here is a link to photographs taken by Peter Fry walking along on the Strood Safari

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Strood Safari

A very visual event with two main characters standing out amongst the Crowds.

The eccentric explorer Mr C.


The elegant Ms. Ann Pratt.

Stories and facts about Strood and its history were relived and shared with the people on the  walk.

telling stories en route

negotiating traffic on the bridge

including a primary school
pupils portrait of Ann
ideas and sketches for the trail markers
were displayed, inspired by community groups

Lots of people braved the weather and were rewarded with a chilly, but almost sunny December day. This guided tour covered about a quarter of the entire trail and finished with a look around medieval Temple Manor, which was kindly opened especially for the tour by friendly staff. Thanks to everyone who came along and walked with us, I came away feeling the good people of Strood had celebrated where they lived and showed it off to an 'out of towner' like me.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

This Week End.

The Safari is this weekend. Lets hope the weather holds up and the snow melts a bit more.
A reminder then of the times: 10.30 and 1.30 and Sat 11th and Sun 12th Dec. Meet at the park on Church Green.

You've never seen anything like this before

See the posters below for a little more detail:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Inner Worlds

This was my last day of workshops and these children were the youngest I will have worked with on this project. Some told me they were 5 others were 4, they told me all about their pets, their toys and their families. Its been a few years since I worked with children quite so young  and they surprised and charmed me. They recognised some of the places along the trail which led onto a few stories that I felt might have been a little exaggerated. These involved quad bikes, mermaids, a family with 7 dogs and relatives from somewhere like Ethiopia, Utrecht or was it Erith, I never quite got to the bottom of it, as it appeared they had lived in all these places. The class carried out my rather grown up suggestions about history, botanical accuracy and even map making to the best of their abilities. The books I took in were largely disregarded.....too spontaneity.....copy that....WHY I can do this instead? The result was usually Mums Dads and Brothers and Sisters and some much loved pets. A few drawings ventured outside from home or school.

I loved the their care free approaches, no one asked for a rubber, no problems about have I started in the wrong place? I need a ruler, how do you draw a bird, endless searching for the right thing to copy. None of that, just straight in and make it up!

As these children explained their drawings to me I was really blown away by how easily they dipped in and out of fiction while making these drawings. I could see sometimes their whole body involved in doing the drawing. This was achieved by walking round it as you draw it, then suddenly dive into a shading bonanza with intense concentration, but a felt tip pen blow out would suddenly halt the flow.

This is a map of strood.

botanical accuracy

I tried to encourage team work by getting each table to work together on a map of Strood. This was quite interesting as each child drew as if they had their own sheet of paper in front them...on separate drawings but, a little link drawing sometimes appeared down in the corner crossing two sheets of paper.

Another Strood map drawing (the dots are significant places, which included Russia)

I enjoyed stories between drawings and wished my imagination was able to jump from topic to topic in the same way with equal enthusiasm. The drawings are inner worlds and are real to the makers of them.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Initial Design Ideas.

I have drawn up some initial designs now for these mosaic markers. I found out in my last meeting that I may need to change the shape of them, but here is the basic look and style of them.

I have tried as hard as I can to keep to the original material generated by the workshops. I did about 10 or more designs but most of them will have change now, so I will show you about half of them! I want to show how  the design workshops have influenced my designs. 

marsh marigolds
I have used a green background with a white boarder on all the designs as this follows the style of the metal Strood Community Trail Signs recently positioned along the route. I have also added the trail logo in every design as well so things link together visually.
this design was done by a hard working student with special needs who has depicted shipping on the busy River Medway some 500 years ago. I was impressed by googled research to complete this students work.

Another student with special needs depicting heraldry and the medieval heritage of the area. 


This is Victorian Botanist Anne Pratt who lived in Strood and in her time was quite famous, She had a bad knee as a child and took up drawing at a very young age.


wild flowers on Rede Common.

There are wild sunflowers growing out of cracks in the brickwork of a building at Darnley Steps noted by this student.

A Knights Templar...................... at the core of the whole trail.

So another walk around the trail for me next week to agree what form these markers will take ie on stones, in the floor or on stone pillers and where exactley we can put these markers.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Moving On

Preparations for the Strood Safari are well under way and I have attached some initial sketches by Jo. These start to bring to life one of the Safari leaders............the...aherm.....Eccentric Mr C?

by Jo from Animate  
 Other news:

Had a good meeting with the city council today and for me the way forward has been identified. This afternoon I took four rocks to a specialist contractor for diamond drilling!

I have also spent a while sketching out some visuals for Strood Trail Markers. I'm not ready to unleash them on happless readers yet...that will be the next post.

I have also recieved some very nice emails from a few readers of the blog so far, thank you for those. I urge readers to leave comments on the blog so a dialogue and momentum builds as this project develops.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Latest News: The Strood Safari....details here.

Everyone has taken part.

Two days at a school with total focus on special needs. Learning is flexable in this situation and we covered all aspects around this project and I have really enjoyed my time here. Had a game of football at break time (rush back goalies) with some confusion over the final score and the opposition had more players than we did! I had  Hannah from Animate alongside me and she was easy with this situation and took some great photos.

even though we were attacked by bats on several occasions we managed
 to trace the trail route and create our own map.

these three guys worked well together, on a large work showing their
everyday journey through the town of strood and the surrounding areas.

I can't possibly show all the work produced here as there was so much, but I have highlighted the work done where real effort and carefull concentration was applied. Particularly to the ships on the river drawing.  

In the last session I worked with one of the older guys to make a collage, and I have to mention how well mannered and polite he was through the entire session. I really enjoyed working with him.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The pupils drew boldly and fearlessly

I was welcomed so warmly at Bligh Junior School by staff today... It really sets the tone to the afternoon. The pupils in the class I worked with were ultra on task today! They drew and drew like they've never drawn before.

We looked at photos along the trail, spotting places they knew and wondering what wildlife and flowers there may be along the way. We tried to capture our imaginations on paper with pencils and a few colours. The pupils drew boldly and fearlessly. We created a lot of art this afternoon.

All the drawings will be handed over to Rob who may use them and make them into the mosaics for the community trail. The pupils were sure that one of their ideas will be in the art works. They will be joining us on the Strood Safari - so hopefully we will be able to spot them on the tour!

I know Jo had 'a technical' with her camera, so I've drawn some wild flowers instead, and I will probably will be able to get some photos of their drawings on here a little later.

Blogged by Jo Dyer Animate Community Arts.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The new Trail Signs are in place.

My last visit to the youth club was very different. Looking back with hindsight I might have made a mistake taking in the work generated by the primary school into the youth club. I wanted to see if we could sort the drawings into two piles together: ones that were relevant or interesting in some way and those not usable. Then I had hoped to expand on why these drawings were chosen and develop the ideas within them. This may have alienated the group as too hard a task, or the drawings were just seen as not proper art, as I was very quickly asked to prove that I could draw and was this art thing serious? They looked at photos of my previous work and asked lots of questions, as if they were deciding if art was justifiable.

A younger club goer enjoyed drawing King Richard 1. 

When I was young I copied this picture several times. I would just like to say it was John Kenney who illustrated these ladybird books as well as the Thomas Tank Engine series, he must have fired the imagination of millions of children. Quite a legacy.

The new trail signs are already in place.

On the way home in the car I played Led Zeppelin Good Times Bad Times............!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

West meets East

West meets East is what happened to me today, and if you think back to the Knights Templar's that was kind of what they were about except it was the middle east. But they learnt so much from other cultures and they became so powerful, that the church here had to put an end to it. They were outlawed and killed.

The trees have less leaves on them now compared to last time I visited the school. This is the 3rd workshop and my 2nd in this school. Children are saying hi to me in a surprised kind of way as I walk down the corridor. I think my class are a bit younger this time. This class is er.......more lively... very demanding and defiantly liking the slide show. I have a been told that diamonds in the rocks can be found on Rede Common.

Slow to get going this group but a lot of free spirits in this class and very much carrying out their own ideas, my themes and attempts to steer them to what I want fall on stony ground and I have to go with the flow and allow these drawings to develop.

This class have shown me a thing or two about techniques and ideas generation as they get going....noisy but that's OK isn't it, they are working hard and trying stuff out.                                                              
lets do lots of small drawings .....A3 too big.

using leaves as templates
to join shapes together

butterfly templates


They are younger and their imagination is leading them and I get running commentaries about whats happening in their pictures. Some one has done rows of shields are letters on a page. You can't tell people to draw something they don't want to, its best to let them show me the way and see whats comes out. I have only done two workshops in this school and they have generated enough material to design markers for two or three trails already. 

love these crowns and shields.............................just fab

a crown with a face in.................... how good is that?

After class I was taken to the West Meets East Club. An exchange school programme sending stuff through the post to each other like a pen friend but with an Indian school. We were shown new ways of picture making ..........where we drew with glue and sprinkled precious coloured pigments onto the glue through a sieve.

Exuberant describes my day in this school as I was carried along by their momentum.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Realistic Expectations.

Youth Club Session No.1

The youth club was the largest I have ever been in. Lots of rooms for all kinds of activities including a sound studio, rock climbing wall, room with a large tele in, and the more usual 5 aside football, pool, table tennis and the standard graffiti mural. I could tell this was not done by the members of the club, but a professional mural painter, which had a portrait of Bob Marley and allocated spaces for 'Tagging'. In fact as I looked around, the doors on the kitchen cupboards were all still attached, the waste bins were undented all the electrical appliances worked, no plywood over the windows and this was actually a very well resourced facility and a whole upstairs that I never even had the chance to look at.  Neither was the pool table ripped.  

This is a typical responce from youth goups..... 'Art ....yeh I dropped that when I took my options'.....I am not at school and you don't have to make me do it. I came here to flirt with girls, listen to some wrap in the mixer room and be cool in front of my mates. May be do a few football tricks. I am not going to show myself right up in front of everyone trying to draw stuff I got an E grade.......So fair enough... it is optional!  

But at this youth club two girls spent the entire evening with me drawing and talking about Gaudi and the city of Barcelona, Van Gogh, impressionist painting and Andy Warholl. I had the difference between fine art and graphics explained to me. Heraldic designs with mythological animals seemed favourite.

With so many other more exciting activities going on, I felt I engaged a small audience who liked the slide show of the trail and recognised the locations. I did spend a lot of time with a non drawing E grader playing a sort of drawing game, where you start at home and one by one things happen as you walk around the garden and back home again.

A drawing game travelling along an imaginary trail.

Drawing from imagination when you are in Primary school is the easiest most natural thing, but when your in your teenage years it is one of the most difficult and failing in front of your peer group is to be avoided at all costs.
Normally I have a game of pool or table tennis, but I was too busy this time.

interested in heralic designs

Thursday, 4 November 2010

What will we see on the Strood Safari?

I found the school today, nestled on the top of the highest hill in Strood. I was quite surprised to see so much green and nature around the school, considering it was located in the heart of an enormous housing estate. the school had lovely green spaces on their doorstep, and the road leading to the school had an avenue of amazing autumnal trees. They started yellow and turned more red as I went up the hill towards the school. 

The school is so lucky to have the new community trail on their doorstep. The cross-over between the Strood and Cuxton trails are literally five minutes walk away.... surely a great excuse for future outdoor class work!

I turned up with my magic box of art tools and a giant piece of paper, and warmly greeted by the pupils. We were all very excited to be working together and 'doing art' for Strood. Over the course of the afternoon, the pupils told me all about their town by drawing a great map which included their houses, the roads, the river, castle, and all the the green spaces they could think of (yes Reed Common is included as an important part of the town!). We even managed to explore who - or what  - lives in Strood. Cats and dogs were very common habitants, but butterflies, ants, pigeons, swans, fish, ladybirds have also be spotted. We are sure that they will be seen on the Strood Safari at some point!

So I'm now going to take all the images away, get them scanned and use some of them in the posters and postcards, promoting the big Strood Safari event in December. Watch this space for final artworks!

blogged by Jo Dyer Animate Community Arts.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The First Design Workshops

I visited a local Junior School to work on the initial design ideas for this project, the first group to start.

So do you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news is I took photos of the pupils enthusiastically showing me their drawings they had done, with  happy smiles, as they were proud of their work. They had followed the route on a slide show I had prepared and they knew all the aspects of Strood already. At the end of the session some stood at the front of the classroom and eloquently described to whole group what their drawing represented and why they had done them.

The bad news is the photos showed very well their beaming faces, but the drawings they were displaying came out a bit rubbish. So I felt I had to fuzz out the best bits of these photographs to be on the safe side........... and use the computer to show that there was actually something on the paper they were holding up.

As an initial start to this project where things are still very fluid the class produced a range of work on the topics of wild flowers and medieval knights. The concept of drawing for something to be created in another material (mosaic) was something I thought would be hard to digest....I wanted to avoid very small over detailed work...... no problem with that, big strong drawings came out.