Thursday, 5 March 2015

Sketchbook Making Workshop for Tullie House's Anselm Kiefer Exhibition

Making an envelope sketchbook

Another day another workshop, another workshop connected to Tullie House's current Anselm Kiefer exhibition. It really is a fantastic exhibition and I'm really pleased to be involved in so many of the engagement projects. I find Kiefer's work very inspiring and am intrigued by a lot of his ideas and the issues he addresses so it's great to be able to share that interest and explore it with other people. Today I was working with secondary school students on a mixed media sketchbook making session.

Two of my sample accordion sketchbooks

One of my sample envelope sketchbooks

This workshop, like the one I ran for Art Educators North West and the session I ran before Christmas, focused on using reclaimed and recycled papers to make interesting sketchbooks. Kiefer has made books throughout his career and also uses the book as a motif in his work. I like the idea of a book as a container (of stories, thoughts, memories, ideas, information and so on) which is one of the reasons I designed the workshop around books. Also, sketchbooks are always useful and are very personal items, a handmade sketchbook even more so.

Making envelopes

Preparing and selecting papers and making envelopes

During the workshop we focused on two types of sketchbook, envelope sketchbooks and accordion sketchbooks. Both are quite simple and relatively easy to master but they have a great deal of potential in terms of personalisation and development. Both can also be transformed into 3D pieces and I think would be really interesting avenue to explore. The use of reclaimed and recycled materials references Kiefer's multi media approach but also allows for the use of materials that are personal or have a meaning in themselves to be used, such as old exhibition guides or old letters.

Mixing different papers

Getting stuck in

The students were very enthusiastic and worked really hard all session, they got really involved in the process which was great and they came up with some great ideas and created some lovely sketchbooks. Almost all the students chose to make envelope books, which I was quite surprised about as I expected the accordion books to be more popular. One of the nice things about a sketchbook making session is that at the end the students all had a book to take away with them and work into as they were spending the afternoon in the gallery.

Some of the finished sketchbooks

Finished envelope sketchbook

A selection of finished sketchbooks

I think this was a very successful workshop as it allowed plenty of room for individual expression but was also accessible to a wide range of abilities. Having a useful and beautiful finished product was also a positive. I also think another reason it worked well was because the students could easily see ways to develop the ideas and use them in their own work. It was also a lot of fun!

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