As Arts Lab’s film intern, Tansy West, a sixth form film student from Kevicc in Totnes, made this beautiful short film. Her take on it – ‘spontaneous’ – was a result of the impromptu nature of the Making Mondays workshop making use of swathes of paper, acrylic paint and cards instead of brushes …. and all participants collaborating. You get a sense why the studio’s a chilled place to be.
Many Making Mondays sessions start with collaboration. Inspired by the Arts Lab summer exhibition ‘Do more of what you love ….’ , the simple opportunity to step out into that free zone, unjudged and free to play, resulted in this spontaneous shared drawing that then evolved into a painted sculpture.
Arts Lab’s summer show was all about collaboration – both with audience and each other as practioners. ‘Do more of what you love – an artists’ exhibition honouring the work of young people through painting, drawing, photography and dance’ – was an opportunity for Arts Lab artists to link the work created by young people during Lab workshops with that of their own practices as painter or illustrator, dancer or photographer. Each of the five artists in the exhibition used as a starting point for their individual pieces, collaborative murals made by groups of young people during Arts Lab workshops. In this instance, we focussed on groups of 18-25 year old male offenders who created the largest pieces in the show – ‘Key4Life 1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’.Kirsty Allnutt (dancer) and Charlotte Wells (painter), for example, worked alongside each other in the studio responding to a large collaborative mural created by the second Key4Life group.
Kirsty writes: ‘With the exhibition in sight, I have been working on a performance that itends to honor the Key4Life group who made this large, chaotic piece of artwork with Sara. I wanted to marry this with my love of music, movement and storytelling. Charlotte from the team joined me on one of my ‘development’ days. Together we shared the space doing what we love. To trigger my improvisation process, there was no shortage of stimuli on the original Key4Life artwork – a mad range of colours, shapes, drawings, images, patterns, handprints and words …. I look at the piece to see what takes my eye. Then I turn this into movement. Travelling from one end to the other, the artwork leads me on a journey that evolves into a dance performance.’
Still working with the giant mural, Charlotte responds in paint: ‘The Lab was an exciting space to be in, working alongside Kirsty with her music and her dancing, whilst I painted and drew on my canvases on the floor. Both our practices/art forms are different, but we managed to share the space and come up with effective works in progress. Our individual energies became motivation and support for each other to work on responses to the Key4Life mural. My own response is developing into a series of canvases. Starting in the Lab, I wanted to express in my work the sense of energy and enjoyment of painting for the sake of painting which Arts Lab fosters in all creative making. With the mural in front of me, the sense of play and freedom in the random forms and colours ‘allowed’ for experimental techniques in my own work, most especially scraffito and layering/glazing. Back home in my own studio, the canvases evolve daily.’
Sara Downham-Lotto worked on the first Key4Life mural created by 20 young Londoners. The nature of her response to the work of young people made at Lab workshops is very different to Kirsty and Charlotte’s; she deconstructs everything, reworks and reconstructs through a radical process of cutting and tearing up, painting over, stencilling, reshaping, etc. But just like the others, the process can be just as interesting (sometimes more) than the finished product. The giant mural below, was spliced into 3 to become ‘Good Vibe I’, ‘II’ and ‘III’.
‘Let’s get together II’ is a reworking of ‘Let’s get together I’ which started out as pieces of cut up mural from a range of workshops – a form of ‘latent’ collaboration. See also how ‘Homage to Meredith’ has evolved (left to right).
March 2017 Some cool collaboration started at Studio 20 in the build up to Arts Lab’s May exhibition. Five artists/poets/performers worked together to create a happening about hope and happiness. Kerry Smallman (poet, performer, musician) and Kirsty Allnutt (dancer and performance artist) hatched ideas about expression and public engagement with the theme ‘personal bliss’. Anna Gordon (illustrator) and Sara Downham-Lotto combined their practices – drawing and painting – in a process that put them in ‘the creative zone’. Zanna Lotto came to the studio and took these photos of Anna and Sara working.