Building New landscapes

The artist and designer Rachel Kelly led the session, beginning downstairs in Abbot Hall’s period rooms where the decorative cornicing on the plush red and sage green walls frame traditional oil paintings. She drew out a discussion about how the rooms have been designed to display these paintings, creating very particular spaces.

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We moved through these “roomscapes” towards the watercolour gallery where we thought about perspective in dramatic landscapes by Turner and Ruskin and in townscapes full of people on market day. We thought about how these paintings were great descriptions of the world.

We went upstairs to Taking Flight and to very different paintings! The group began to think about how paintings can represent ideas, feelings and a sense of place and we chose our favourite works to describe. Some great words! The paintings were “fast”, “exciting”, “hypnotising” and “elemental”.  And from these descriptions we began to work in card, making 3D artist’s tools for drawing with. We tore and cut fluid shapes and made patterns inspired by the paintings to a jazz soundtrack, filling the gallery with rhythm and a fluid improvisational atmosphere.

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These artist’s tools helped us to make impressions in soft pastels adding colour to the shapes we had created in the gallery.

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Initial studies provided inspiration for everyone’s individual 3D landscapes. Lorna made a landscape space that she could inhabit! Alice created sculptural sea waves. Jem created a large boat in which to sail the St Ives seas. Iona made a music themed collage and a beach house with a firey roof. Nico made a landscape in which the four elements ran into one another – water quenching fire making smoke rise through the air into the leaves of a tree growing from the earth.

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Individual landscapes made each painting come to life in 3D form. Imaginations took flight! Exciting objects and shapes that could exist within the abstract paintings. A very busy creative day!

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