Monday, October 15, 2012

Seeding Auckland Day 3

Day 3: Another outing in Ponsonby with some very enthusiastic Seeders. Heavy rain delayed our start but we put in a few good hours and came up with some beautiful results.

Ilse-Marie very happy to find $5 

Promising selection of material to work with

We ended up squeezing around the same park table as yesterday.
They were so ideal i thought they had to have been purpose built.

Many thanks to Raewyn, Ilse Marie, Dot, Tatjana

Seeding Auckland Day 2

Day 2: The first ever Seeding the Cloud walk hosted in Auckland - it was fantastic, such a lovely way to experience the city and hang out with new people.
Before arriving in Auckland I timetabled some walks to occur in and around Ponsonby. I thought of these walks as training sessions. I would take people through the process, share my systems, techniques, tooling, rationale, etc in detail and overtime and through my detailed instruction I hoped to build a small army of supporters eager to take the project on and interpret it within there own setting.

As with the workshop I a day earlier I provided participants with a starter pack, although in this instance the tools were to be carried (safely and rather heavily) in a pack on my back.
The walks were scheduled to last for a couple of hours for a small group, no more than five participants (three is ideal). I generally set our with no particular course in mind, and together we look for, pick up, sort, drill and thread the fragments of plastic we find.
There are many challenges that present during these outings, however the variables are what  make the process continually interesting for me. In my role as host and trainer I have to take in to consideration how everyone might fair if the weather is too hot, cold, windy, or too rainy. I often begin by asking who has a coat, an umbrella, hat etc.
Initially I lead the group, instructing them on the pace, what we are looking for, I even suggest how and where to look. But as familiarity builds I find the group begins to take on making some of the decisions and those with local knowledge begin to share it.
As with all material supply there are quality and quantity issues to over come. If there is too much plastic we don't cover much ground, not enough plastic and we have to walk too far. These simple factors add to the drama of the process. Will it work or won't it, how much time is required and how much distance is travelled to achieve our necklace. Unfortunately in this training session we don't tend to finish our thread.
I have found its important not to try and preempt the experience, far more fun is to be had by just going out and seeing what happens. If I were to prepare by pre-walking an area to see how much plastic is around or to check out the cafes in the area to see which one might have suitable tables and relaxed staff it would make for a predictable and potentially boring experience. I have to trust that we will find plastic fragments and a place to work where ever we go. If there isn't much plastic, that's good! We just have to walk a bit further and look a bit harder.

I would like to thank my three intrepid and enthusiastic Seeders who joined me on this particular day Allan, Lucy and Fran!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Seeding Auckland: Day One Indoor Workshop

In preparation for Seeding Auckland I planned a few 'small-scale' public events, located, initially creating a project hub in and around Ponsonby. The events offered over several days were devised to allow for  indoor/outdoor training/making sessions and information sharing sessions. Artist talks were given (at the gallery as a separate event, and combined with the indoor training session) to contextualise the project within jewellery and environmental concerns and to allow for discussion.

Not all jewellers enjoy talking about their work but in relation to this project I feel its an integral component of the project. Its the story telling aspect of it that i think is important for engaging curiosity and its another way to encourage participants that next step, get involved, skill up and potentially take the project on and create something similar or alternatively something else with it.

The  Seeding Auckland events began with an indoor workshop at Art Station, a community art space on Ponsonby Rd conveniently located opposite the Objectspace galleries.  Holding an indoor workshop might seem counter intuitive to the objectives I developed early on for this project, i.e that I gather the material and worked with it in the environment in which it was found.  However I have found offering an indoor option has the potential to attract those who are less aware or experienced in contemporary jewellery, or those who are less inclined to leap into making jewellery in public.  It also has the advantage of allowing enough time to complete a necklace, (which is something that doesn't tend to happen within a similar time frame on the walks I host) and interestingly for me attendees have gone on and continued the project in their own neighbourhoods - which was a key objective of the project!  Working indoors is also the most reliable or weather proof option and fortunately on this day it also suited my state of health.  I was recovering from a cold I had caught on the plane on my way over.

The room we worked in at Art Station was ideal, big tables, natural light from north facing windows (from which we could see the rain lightly falling), handy to toilets and a kitchen for hot drinks next door.  Bookings were light for this event, perhaps due its timing on a Friday and school holidays hadn't started, although interestingly those who did attend were all jewellers.
Most people are fingers and thumbs when beginning the process, no matter what their level of experience.  
Loving Sharon's inclusion of the spoon
 I enjoy giving instruction on my approach to the technique, especially relaying the finer details of what i have learnt from doing this process over and over.  I also love it when others are less concerned with how i do it and begin to innovate - find some expression of their own.
Also loving Cheryls zig-zag threading 

In fact what I notice is everyone manages to come up with some form of variation when they combine the fragments, beads and thread. It doesn't seem to matter how much experience the maker has everyone responds with their own interpretation when it comes to stringing things together - and they seem to find enjoyment in doing so!

Thank you Sharon, Cheryl and Ingrid for a great morning!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Seeding Auckland

Last week I packed Seeding the Cloud into my suitcase and headed over the Tasman to the city of Auckland.

This visit is my first venture in touring the project and working it in another city. I installed a hard copy (so to speak) in a gallery (object, instruction cards, and digital screening of process at Objectspace) along with working the process with the public, including small groups walking and working around the process around the city streets, parks beaches etc.

There was only so much I could prepare in advance of my visit.  I have trialled the process many times outdoors on my own, I've networked the project amongst friends and family, created events for small groups to experience the process outdoors and held an indoor workshop which suited those not so intrepid. However, these had occurred mostly (but not exclusively) in my own city.

My intention with touring the project and working the process in other cities is to promote the ideas behind it and to create opportunities for the public to engage with it. If the project is to work as a solution to the issue of waste plastic in the environment, (i.e. promoting plastic as a valuable resource and beautiful material) the concept has to reach a wider audience and the process has to be taken up by others than myself. The biggest question for me it what is the most effective means for this to happen.

In the weeks before I left I consulted with the very lovely and capable Laura Howard at Objectspace.  I decided to create a structure for the project based on my prior experience, the trick was to do this within the two week period which included school holidays, my daughters eighth birthday (oh, and did i mention getting sick!!) So in conjunction with Artstation (conveniently located opposite Objectspace) I planned some events; an indoor workshop, artist talk and a couple of walking/process events. There were bound to be hiccups, something unknown or unexpected to contend with (Auckland weather is known to be very wet and windy at this time of year), so I was more than a little anxious the weeks leading up to the launch!!

Fortunately there is plenty of good news to report!! The installation at Objectspace in Ponsonby Rd went really well (many thanks to the very supportive Objectspace staff!), and the project situated well in the street frontage gallery. The scrolling digital images were particularly effective in catching the attention of people passing by and while the headings of the instruction cards (not visible, but to the right of the image) are legible from the street, the finer details in black can be taken in by stepping in the gallery.

(Oh, and have I told you that my great, great grandfather was the architect of the building that houses Objectspace, he was responsible for a few banks and churches around Auckland)

Over the next few posts I will report on the many lovely people i have encountered during my visit and the overwhelmingly positive experience of presenting the project here. I got to catch up with some old friends from when i lived here many years ago, (half my life ago) and met many others who were new.

Either way many thanks, it was a enriching experience to walk/work and talk alongside you all!!