Working with Amy Lawrence – Week 4

For this years Blaze Festival, a group of Artists will be working with professional curator Amy Lawrence to produce artwork in preparation for an exhibition in October in Accrington Library.

They will be working together over weekly sessions, and will be blogging about each session as it takes place!

Heres is this weeks blog post, written by Antonia Hennerley.

I never want to miss a workshop at Blaze but this particular week I couldn’t find any child care. I thought I’d have to miss out and cancel. I was stressed because I thought that If I brought my son, Noah, he may be a distraction to the group and to the artist giving the workshop… (Noah likes to ask a lot questions and he gets his hands into everything!) I asked Amy and the group to see how they would feel about me bringing him and I was surprised when I got a reply to say, yes and “only if I felt I was going to get something out of it”. I’d never thought of that before, that by having my son there I wouldn’t be able to focus and take anything from the workshop? I was more worried about everyone else and how if Noah was there…could they get the best out of the workshop?

Noah stole a lot of biscuits, persistently kept on asking for the hoopla hoops he had seen (which were only for dinner), and mischievously kept turning up the iPad volume for his film.. to get my attention. Apart from this I only had to take him outside to calm down and talk seriously once… Noah needed to understand that Oli didn’t want him to keep standing on his feet whilst he was taking part in the warm up and that it was no longer funny.

So the question is did I get anything out of the workshop? You’d probably think not. But I did.

The one thing I do remember is the end task and feeling completely like I’d had enough, Noah had run out of biscuits and hadn’t eaten properly, the sugar rush was coming and we had to pair up and create an intervention in the library based on what we had learnt/picked up on/been exploring within the workshop. I remember thinking “gosh, why have I got no ideas?”, I couldn’t think. And neither could my partner Katie Suthers. We came up with an idea eventually that encompassed most of what we had been observing that day.. Mimicking people’s movements we would all pick a book and then like Chinese whispers we would copy the person next to us. But then we was prompted, by Amy and Juliet, with the idea that we could and probably should use Noah in our intervention.

Instead of seeing Noah as a hindrance we could use what we had, and we had Noah! We could encompass him into what we was doing, but how? After a lot time went by struggling with thinking of what to do, (because we both had mental blocks.) We decided we would play hide and seek, I felt a little stressed as I thought I didn’t want to just make art that didn’t mean anything. I didn’t just want to play a game as a “cop out” (that’s how it felt), because I needed to entertain my son. I wanted to make something meaningful like my art usually is, I couldn’t see the meaning in what we would be trying to share if we played hide and seek.

After seeking guidance, Amy told me that this is like what I usually do, making a safe place in the library. But that’s not why I chose to play hide and seek, I simply thought that it would be entertaining for us all, especially Noah.

This week was the most fun workshop we have had. (In the end.) The actions/commands/instructions we gave and received created a fun experience. One task we had to do was to, in pairs, one person would walk and make a short journey then the other would have to watch and then follow the journey but do it backwards. Next we had to lie down in the library and block off pathways, this one particular task Noah found hilarious and decided to use us all as shelves. He took books off shelves and piled them on our backs and bellies and heads. The last task was ours where we played a game of hide and seek. It’s strange that we all created such fun experiences by the task we was given which was to create an intervention with a set of rules, keeping in mind what we had been looking at in the workshop. (Which was looking at how people move in the library and maps/paths people take. We also looked at Juliet’s work which one work she produced included a set of rules to follow).

It’s interesting what restrictions can do. Restrictions can limit you but you can also say that you can feel limitless in the restrictions of life. Olly Blight, an artist working within this project, said “restrictions give you a barrier for you to be completely limitless within”  I somehow felt restricted with noah being their, I couldn’t be totally immersed in the task at hand. I couldn’t be totally there in my whole being as part of this weeks workshop. But I also felt maybe this restriction gave me a barrier to work within to create a totally new experience. One I wouldn’t have had without Noah being there, the dynamics changed. I wasn’t just an artist I was a mum and slowly throughout the afternoon I lost my patience, I almost went home, I felt like I’d lost who I was being there because I couldn’t think of an idea for the task with no much distraction. But then I learnt a lot. I learnt to use what’s at hand, Noah was a part of the experience he made it challenging. By the end tasks I’d learnt to let go and feel him as part of the group.

Over the summer I had been wanting Noah to be a part of my art and for him to come with me when I do work so this workshop was a perfect time for us to learn how to work together and for me to learn from him. Noah’s the biggest part of my life, thank you to Amy and Juliette and for everyone there that week who welcomed him into the workshop to join in!  We really enjoyed it.

Working With Amy Lawrence - Week 4 (1)