Thursday, 20 October 2011

Arts and Health at The Whitworth Art Gallery

This is the blog I will post on and which will show what's happening with others I work with. Details of this will be given out by Wendy at a Arts and Health conference in Australia - maybe I'll become famous! :p

Check it out!

Monday, 17 October 2011



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 – I may ruin it for hundreds! :p)!

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 ManchesterMy 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 hosptial - 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 chaotic and tiring! But I think its a really good role for me as I love to do lots of differnet things and always be moving! (Talking of moving -walking between the three institutions is going to keep me fit!!) I have a few different roles and responsibilites, 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 enviroment'. 

I will be writing a blog for Wendy each week (to help her update her role), so I figure I might as well use that here too! I will post a link to her page on a following post as well as pictures and any other updates!

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 exciting 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!