Stephen Turner's giant Exbury Egg will be on display in the gallery courtyard at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings from 16th Sep - 15th Oct, accompanied by his acclaimed exhibition everything comes from the egg. The exhibition is free, and families and kids are welcome to visit, and pick up their FREE KIDS' ACTIVITY GUIDE! .
To celebrate the final leg of the Egg's 2017 tour, we commissioned comic artist and musician Orson Coupland to produce a cartoon strip featuring The Exbury Egg, its creator Stephen Turner, and a young visitor who is transported to the Egg on the back of a seagull!
Who better to help us encourage local families to visit, we wondered, than the very inspiring Orson, who lives in Hastings, and who at the age of 14, has been making drawings, illustrations and cartoons since he was old enough to hold a crayon! Read more about his work here.
We visited Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth at the weekend to see our Kids' Guide to Stephen Turner's Exbury Egg in action! The drawing, writing and doing activities in the guide are inspired by the ideas and processes that Stephen explored during his time living and working in the Egg.
The Exbury Egg will be located in the central pond of City Quay until 3rd Sept 2017, accompanied by the exhibition, ‘Everything Comes from the Egg’ at Aspex Gallery. This comprehensive exhibition offers visitors an opportunity to see the range of artworks, ephemera and documentation Stephen has made and collected over the course of the project.
The exhibition is free and families are welcome to pick up a copy of the free Kids' Guide!
Thank you to Alessandra Rinaudo for her very fabulous photographs!!
White Wall Yellow Door worked closely with The Stoke Newington Heritage Mural Project, producing two family engagement activities to help local children and families engage with different aspects of the project as it unfolded over the course of a year.
We LOVE the final result, and hope that the children involved will feel proud that they have contributed to the history of their street in such a creative, an inspiring and an enduring way.
Our 'Ghostsigns of Stoke Newington Trail', commissioned as part of the Stoke Newington Heritage Mural Project - a community arts project that will unfold during the course of 2016, and culminating in Summer 2016 with the production of an original mural, on the big wall that over looks William Patten Primary School and Stoke Newington Church Street.
Here are some pictures we took having fun on our Ghostsigns of Stoke Newington Trail, commissioned as part of the Stoke Newington Heritage Mural Project, 2015.
With thanks to Sam Roberts of Ghostsign Tours for his guidance, knowledge and inspiration.
We are pleased to welcome our guest blogger, Edinburgh based artist and writer, Catherine Marshall.
Catherine’s work explores the boundary between the banal and the absurd through subjecting the rhythms, the routines and the structures of everyday life to an intense and detailed scrutiny. She is interested in different articulations of structure and form, both in relation to the built environment, as well as to visual and written language.
Here she recounts how a spontaneous game of table tennis with her son, in a closed-off space at Summerhall in Edinburgh turned into an impromptu performance, which was subsequently re-lived on a repeat visit a few weeks later.
For more on her work, please visit: http://compartmentsee.blogspot.co.uk/
In a dusty room, in the basement corridor of Summerhall in Edinburgh, my son and I are playing a game of table tennis. Ten minutes before, I had been cajoling him to come to the centre at all, as he didn't want to see 'art you like' which, he said, was 'boring'. But here we are now engrossed in a game, not even sure if we were supposed to be using this room at all.
By all accounts, it was a storage space: empty plinths, stacked chairs covered with dust, a glass of red wine abandoned on the floor. We had paused and peered into the darkness of the room, seen the table tennis table and cheekily flicked on the switch, bathing the room in fluorescent light. Accompanied by Donna Summer on an infernal loop blasting from a film installation next door, our performance had begun. Members of the public walked past, peered in for an instant, then moved on. All that we lacked was a title for our show.
Nothing happened much in our performance, my son's school uniform got covered in dust as he wriggled under the chairs to retrieve a ping-pong ball. No, nothing really happened, just a victory on both sides and a lot of fun. No lasting impressions from our under-the-radar performance then, just a permanent synesthetic association between table tennis and Donna Summer for the performers themselves.
After this discovery, it was not hard anymore to persuade my son to come to the arts centre.
When we returned at a later date for a rematch, we found the room had been cleared. But just beyond the corridor in an exhibition space there was, luckily for us, a new table tennis table. This time it was not near collapse like the other one, but brand new and covered with an intriguing laminated design. Three brand new bats sat in their holder and there was a bowl full of new ping-pong balls.
This table tennis table, however, formed the basis of a sound piece, and it had a title, Noisy Table, a collaboration between artist Will Nash and the Build Brighton Hack Space. When the ball hits the table the vibrations creates sounds that are broadcast back into the game. In one of its soundscapes, the ball's touch on the table filled the room with words spoken by Ivor Cutler: 'Creamy Pumpkins', 'Kiss', 'How do I get out of here?' My younger son aged 4, not yet old enough to play, but able to operate the buttons switching soundscapes, was heaped over the corner of the table in fits of giggles, connecting as children naturally do, with the absurd.
The artist has said of the piece: 'People can feel intimidated when they are asked to join in by an artist but they don't even think about that with table tennis. They just pick up the bat and start playing'.
When it was first exhibited, the ping-pong table simply exhibited the sound of the ping-pong hitting the table, a nice idea in itself. Now it has apparently endless possibilities as it can work with open patch software for customisation.
May I suggest for its next incarnation, a soundscape of top volume disco hits of Donna Summer, filtered through a dusty room and an eight-year old boy shouting, 'best out of 10, no 11, no 12!' 'Just one more game!' and 'Stop taking pictures Mum, just play!'
“Mums and dads are very great
But not when they drag you to the Tate”
- by Ruby Robinson, aged 8
We love how this poem by the daughter of an artist friend cuts to the chase!
At White Wall Yellow Door, we’re here to solve this kind of problem.
We’ve been designing the drawing and writing activities for our latest project, a kids' activity guide for Trinity Buoy Wharf. One of our ideas was to feature David Snoo Wilson’s Slugmarines – strange squat like creatures, cast from reclaimed raw materials such as old metal gas canisters.
The idea was that we provide a shape featuring an abstracted outline of the original, and invite a response in the form of an addition, an amendement, an embellishment to pull it out of that original function, and to give it a personality, a different kind of presence, in the way that Snoo Wilson has with his bronze cast works.
The problem was that the sculptures themselves had been temporarily reclocated from their positions on the wharf because ‘they were getting in the way’, and so we moved on from the idea of featuring them in our guide.
Thinking about that later, it seemed an interesting way of putting it. Doesn’t some of the very best art ‘get in the way’? Perhaps not literally, but in a metaphorical sense art has the capacity to cause a disturbance, to disrupt the familiar. It can extend the limits of our imagination, show us something we’d not seen before, whether something completely different or subtly reconfigure something that, until that point, had seemed static or fixed. In short, art can ‘get in the way’.
It’s probably not what was meant when we were told that the Slugmarines were getting in the way, but in this case the literal also seemed to resonate as the metaphorical.
The room at the top of the Dickens Museum is a nursery, and has been dressed as such, with a children’s bed, some drawings, a display of Victorian toys and games, some freshly laundered linen draped over a wooden washstand. It would have been the room for Dickens’ own children – his eldest son Charles as well as Mary and Kate, both of whom were born in the house. It’s a lovely sweet room, quiet and calm, filled with a sense of being separated from the bustle of the rest of the house.
And then there are the prison bars – an original iron grille rescued from the old Marshalsea Debtors Prison in Borough, where, in 1824, Dickens’ father and most of his siblings were incarcerated for debt. A text panel describes how, being only 12 at the time, the young Dickens was put into lodgings nearby and ordered to work in a boot-blacking factory in Waterloo.
Being situated in the nursery, the installation of the grilles recalls the effect that his father’s imprisonment had on the young Dickens, describing how the episode would haunt him for the rest of his life, and how he would return to it, exploring it in his writing continuously.
Positioning the grilles not in his own bedroom, but in his children’s, invites the visitor to think about psychological legacy and how that very painful episode might have played itself out, perhaps more symbolically, in the emotional lives of children. The room does not tell us details about Charles, Mary, and Kate. Instead, we come face to face with the structure of family history common to us all. In this many layered house, we consider what kinds of emotional weights, prison grilles or otherwise, reside in the upstairs nurseries where we left our own play things years ago.
My step dad is quite weird for he calls strangers things like ‘buddy’ and ‘my friend’.
One of the fantastic contributions to our Observations activity - the activity we designed for the newly opened Anna Freud Room in the Freud Museum in London.
Anna Freud devoted her life to the emotional wellbeing of children. Her work was based on making detailed written observations of the children in her care. The activity White Wall Yellow Door designed is based upon this methodology, but in a reversal of the usual model where the adult observes the child, children are invited to observe the adults, and to record their observations on specially produced Observation Cards, which are left in a card index box in the museum.
The responses have been brilliant. Here, the child queries a social convention that has become such a normalized part of everyday speech as to be almost invisible.
It’s through this kind of questioning that we have the chance to get a glimpse of the familiar anew.
We had a lovely visit to the newly refurbished Anna Freud room at The Freud Museum last weekend. Along with a few younger visitors we had invited along, we got a chance to explore old treasures alongside Bettina Von Zwhel's intriguing new photographic frieze. For the kids, the morning was full of thoughtful exploration, and a bit of sneaking around to gather observations of the adults.
Here are some of photos from the visit: from Bettina's installation piece, to Anna Freud's elegant typewriter.
We hope many more young people will visit in the coming weeks!
Last weekend we visited the Discoveries exhibition and watched young visitors engage with our activity sheets for the first time. Children sat on the floor and drew their own ‘Wanted Poster’ ideas right next to the display of gold coins from the Pembroke Hoard, found hidden inside Pembroke College, Cambridge. Kids filled their ‘Keeping and Collecting’ pages with drawings of imagined collections of Lego, teeth, sea shells and even heads!
I was reminded of a feather collection I had as a child. It was made up of many types of feathers: broad and white from sea gulls, tiny and fluffy from small unnamed birds, grimy and grey from city pigeons, and oneshimmering blue spear from a giant macaw parrot. My feather collection represented a sample of the birds where I lived, but perhaps it was also a reflection of my interest in a realm just beyond my reach. The feathers left a trail for me to follow, traces of life elsewhere: up in the sky, above in the trees, or out over the sea.
I hope kids visiting the Discoveries exhibition will be able to spend time imagining the worlds represented by the objects on display; and in doing so become aware of experiences beyond their immediate reach. That is what it is to be an explorer. The discoveries are things you pick up along the way.
I asked them to choose between the Science Museum and the Tower of London. Edie was insistent; it had to be the Science Museum. She’d been there with her class a few weeks before, and there was something she wanted the rest of us to see; a real piece of the actual moon.
We couldn’t find the piece of moon to begin with, and by the time we did, we had stopped looking. And then suddenly, there it was. Not surrounded by the usual funneling crowd, on its own, quietly inauspicious.
We are looking at a creamy grey piece of rock about the size of a fist, its rough texture glistening in the spotlight. I try to connect what we see with what is written on the information panel. I feel should be moved by what is before us - connected in some way to some big universal truth, a dawning sense of the incredible un-endingness of the space-time continuum…
"This piece of Moon rock was cut from the ‘Great Scott’ rock that Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott picked from the Moon’s surface in August 1971. The rock is made of olivine basalt and was part of an ancient lava flow, formed billions of years earlier when single-celled life had barely begun on Earth."
There are several layers of glass separating us from the fragment of rock – it’s held upright by a metal clamp with white rubber tips and is encased in a triangular prism container that’s filled with nitrogen ‘so that so that it never comes into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere’. This seems sad, so remote…
‘It would blow up if it came into contact with the earth’s air’ Edie says all of a sudden.
But it seems so inert
We press our hands against the glass as we look, and our fingerprints add to the marks already smeared onto it. And now I’m not looking at the rock, I’m looking at the glass, the fingerprints, blurred traces of the people who were here before us. The marks were made inadvertently of course, and they are meant to be invisible, a completely unintentional aspect of the museum experience, to be wiped away at the end of each day.
I thought about that sense of un-conectedness and suddenly those marks felt important; the physical trace of the visitors, the small, insignificant gestures each of us makes as we engage with an exhibit, each mark a microsite; mapping in its own way a unique and personal encounter.
I tried to explain this to Edie as we walked away, her questioning why I’d been trying to take a picture of the fingerprints as well as the rock.
‘Mum,’ she said, ‘you’re crazy’…