The Tetley currently have two incredibly poignant exhibitions, from Rasheed Araeen and Kannan Arunasalam. Araeen’s ‘For Oluwale‘ presents work marking the 50th anniversary of David Oluwale’s death. Oluwale, a British-Nigerian drowned in the River Aire after being systematically harassed by the police. Arunasalam’s ‘The Tent‘ presents films reflecting on identity and the meaning of loss against the lasting impact of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 1983 – 2009.
Responding to these works in an appropriate way to engage families with young children was going to be difficult. I decided to focus on the theme of identity and what home and specifically Leeds, means to the participant.
With Leeds posters, we took images of Leeds, and thought about the area in which we lived, what we enjoyed about our home, its relationship to Leeds as a whole. When you are young and around the age of 7, the concept of Leeds is limited to home in the suburbs – the city is a place you visit rather than being intrinsic to your identity. The children told me about the places they lived, from Alwoodley and Bardsey in the north, and Farsley and Kirkstall in the west, over to Oulton in the east. Travel featured a lot, along with fun days out, and school. Walking in the wonderful green spaces that Leeds offers us across the metropolitan area, with the major parks of Roundhay, Golden Acre, Temple Newsam and Middleton Woods, was a must. Oh and of course drawing and doodling is always lots of fun.
This workshop was in response to Simeon Barclay: Bus2Move, which is the current exhibition at The Tetley. The exhibition explores the relationships between performance, installation, costume display, stage design, sculpture and props.
For my workshop the idea was to make stick people out of pipe cleaners, straws and beads, so that they were movable. Using a light to create shadow, you can trace their movements as you bend, and manipulate their position.
It was a therapeutic workshop, and adults and children alike told me that creating their stick people was calming and it was nice to sit down and do something relaxing with their family.
“Joanna Piotrowska’s photographic series Shelter saw her visiting people’s homes and inviting them to create constructions, dens and habitations from the furniture within their living spaces. The resulting constructions reflect their creator’s inner life, history and state of mind, transforming space and material into something deeply personal.” The Tetley, 2018
Inspired by this, I invited participants to create their own tiny shelters. Using recycled materials, with the toilet roll tube as a base, the creations were wonderful, and I really enjoyed listening to the stories about who lived in their tiny houses – dragons, the pencil people (who were bad, allegedly), a tiny mouse, fairies (including a sign pointing the way so they could find shelter in the garden). The children really enjoyed cutting and sticking and really using their imaginations, and it was hopefully a great way for them to learn and interact creatively with their family.
The workshop was at Beeston Festival, in Cross Flatts Park, South Leeds. It was great to introduce The Tetley to the parents, and tell them all about the free workshops that the Tetley offers. I enjoy working small scale festivals like this, and meeting interesting people with creative minds. I had fabulous support from Taneesha (the Tetley’s Participation Producer), and two Springboard volunteers, Herfa and Marnie, both of whom were superb – I definitely couldn’t have done this solo (myelitis and hot weather are really not a good combination).
Day two of The Tetley’s ‘Fantasy Carnival Garden’ and it was a hot one! Felt like we were actually in the Caribbean and not the Brewery Green outside. We had lots of visitors and returning families from yesterday. All the structures on the lawn looked wonderful, with a splash of colour and catching the wind, the birds flew and the windmill flowers span around.
I printed out a few photos of birds from the islands of Trinidad & Tobago, to inspire the children and learn something new about a country they may well never have heard of, until now. I am privy to knowledge about T&T, as I have a (pen)friend who has grown up with me – almost 30 years now! I have been lucky to visit on a couple of occasions, and even had the opportunity to help create the costumes the ‘Mas bands’ wear during the parade.
This weekend there are four artist workshops at The Tetley as part of the 50 year anniversary of Leeds West Indies Carnival. Each workshop is based around this theme, and together we are building a fantasy carnival garden.
Mechanical Flowers – workshop lead by Jim Bond
Decorating Large Birds – workshop lead by Hayley Mills-Styles
Butterfly Wings – workshop lead by Sarah-Jane Mason
Mini Trini Garden – workshop lead by Mindy Goose
My workshop was to create a scene based on Trinidadian (Trini) folklore and their birds. When Carnival first started in Trinidad, the costumes were based on folklore and eventually took inspiration from environment to decorate elaborate costumes, bright colours and bird feathers.
So, inspired by this, we created hummingbirds, flying in the sky, and characters of folklore living in the forest (many of which I have chosen, because they are less macabre and more child friendly). There were illustrated descriptions to read, and photos of the birds of Trinidad & Tobago. We used collage and built 3D jumbies, Mama Dlos, and Papa Bois that lived in the trees.