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Papertrails: art in the landscape in Elmbridge

February 2007 – February 2008


Today I went to Brighton for an a-n magazine organized discussion. It was interesting to meet other artists involved in so many different projects on so many different scales. It was noticable that many of the projects they were involved in were ones which had been organised or initiated by artists. On my return I put the finishing touches to the exhibition of work by schoochildren. I have been so impressed by their work. Its lovely to see it in the church.


Started on some new work today out in the woods that I have been planning for a while but have just not had the opportunity to actually put into practice. It was wonderful to make a start. When I am planning work I think about it for a long while. make endless drawings and notes but try not to look directly at it as if the idea is going to run away if it notices I am watching.

This month has been very busy. I have been working at primary schools across the borough introducing them to some of the ideas underlying my project. It has occasionally been frustrating not being able to carry out work that I have been planning but I have also found it illuminating. Its also very good to be with people who are purely enjoying the act of making.


Today was very cold. I was working at Cardinal Newman School on an Art / Environmental day with Simon James, the Elmbridge Countryside Liaison Officer. Plans for the day had to be slightly altered to allow for the fact that it was too cold to be outside for long so drawings were very perfunctory. The clipboards were away on a trip with another group of children and the first group came out without pencils anyway! However, we managed and the children seemed interested in the ideas they were introduced to. One of the teachers said that it was interesting for him to see that some children who usually did not collaborate could be seen working together and pooling ideas.


Out on the walk through Arbrook Woods this morning with Judith and Bridget. It was good to be outside. We went on one of their usual routes and they found things to represent their walk which I aim to make casts of and then return to the places they were found. I realise that in future I have to be stricter about the size of these 'samples' as we cart around a heavy bag of sticks! However it is very interesting just being a passive observer. Bridget and Judith pointed out all sorts of shapes and textures that I haven't noticed.


In some indefinable way this week has been extremely busy. Yet I can't work out what I have been so busy doing. I suppose it's one of those periods when you do a little of many things rather a great deal of one thing. So I have been having meetings, researching things, making maquettes, having ideas, moving work, making paper, staining it, trying to remember the bookbinding knot I was using before Art Week and catching up with paperwork (the other kind of paperwork!). Looking at that list makes me feel better althogh I still have a feeling of dissatisfaction. I really want to spend some time on a peice of work and concentrate on it rather than having to flit from one thing to another.

On Monday I am going out on a walk with some friends who walk their dogs on the commons everyday. I have asked if they can follow their usual route through the woodland and pick up eight things from along the way (or make note of eight textures or sounds) to produce the first bit in a fairly large peice of work 'sampling' people's experience of the commons. I want to ask all sorts of different groups to participate. If you are reading this and are from Elmbridge and want to participate, get in touch via this website.


I went to London this morning to meet Kevin Graal who I am hoping to involve in the project. Kevin is a storyteller. One of my starting points for Papertrails was not just the everyday reality of the actual landscape however beautiful that is but the landscape of the imagination.'The woods' from stories, where the journey into them can be the first step on a quest and you will never be sure what you will find.
The forest that the children made at Hurst Park school last week in response to Papertrails reminded me of these stories and made me even more interested in involving Kevin.


The end of Art Week and it has been a really positive experience for me being artist in residence at Hurst Park.

After working with Year 1 in the morning we brought all the work through into the Hall to show everyone what we have been doing all week. My original aim when I discussed this week with Claire and the other teachers last year was to help everyone make something they could feel proud of and which could be part of a collaborative peice of group work. Each child could make a plant or tree, together we would make a jungle. I have to say that my hopes and expectations of the outcomes have been completely surpassed. As I said to the children when they asked me if I was the artist 'Yes, but you are the artist too.'

I have so many photos of the work that I could have put here. The children have all done so well. It has been great working with them. One class has written poems about their sculptures and everyone has taken pride in their creations.


The last couple of days have been good. It's been a very happy experience being welcomed into the school. All the children have made things that they should feel proud of and have responded well and with interest to the project, overcoming time limitations and occasional difficulties with the materials and structures that they have chosen. There have been lots of comments showing that they have responded to the ideas and images shown to them as well as to the opportunity of making something. Two comments that I will treasure are one from a teacher who remarked how good it was for her to see the children each moving from a small planning sketch to a finished peice of work often bigger than themselves; the other from a child, 'The best day ever!'


Nursery all day today. Its lovely to work with children this age because they havent yet decided that they 'can't' do art. They just love colour and glueing things together!


Hurst Park Primary School, the first day of Art Week. What a lovely group of children! Today I worked with Reception and Year 2 who with much excitement and enthusiasm made plant and tree inspired forms to create the start of a jungle. Tomorrow Nursery.


Today I delivered some of the materials and equipment over to Hurst Park Primary School ready for Art Week. I wasn't able to be at St George's Church as my son was ill but Noel came over to show me some bookbinding techniques. I settled on a very simple one which I thought worked well with the paper I have stained. It works well with plain white sheets too.





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