Monday, 29 June 2015

BOM Summer Camp

Last week I did some illustration work for a forthcoming children's summer school at Birmingham Open Media, drawing characters made up of electronic equipment such as wires, transistors, speakers, batteries and bulbs all having fun together at some kind of groovy circuit party.

Taken from the event brief: Perfect for budding inventors and restless minds, this week-long summer camp teaches kids how to solder, build and program objects that respond to commands! Create your own robot or mystical creature. Take part in a cretinous creature jamboree. Race in a robot rally. Take away your very own invention that will amaze your friends!

Aimed at 7-11 year olds, I was conscious of not making the designs gendered and opted for using bright 'electric' colours on a dark background. Focusing on creativity through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) I also felt it important to convey something of the playful tinkering the event will involve without it becoming too childish or conventionally educational in style - because, let's face it, these kids are the badasses of the future.

Hay Fever

How The Light Gets In could be considered the Hay Fringe; the cooler cousin to the famous Hay Festival just down the road. It was my second visit to this yearly celebration of writing, and this time I just strolled across for some mango lassi ice cream and a few talks, detailed below.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Yurt Life: How The Light Gets In Festival

Wired and wellied, I stepped off the bus into a beautiful sunny Hay day. Walking through the winding book-laden streets, across a bridge over the River Wye - waving to the canoeists below - I arrived at the Riverside site of How The Light Gets In festival. Here I was wrapped in wristbands and pointed in the direction of a field. This was yurt country. My festival dwellings came in the form of the most well-furnished tent I'd ever seen. Not only could I stand up inside, but there was a real bed frame, hand-embroidered textiles, electricity and enough room to bust some yoga moves should the wellbeing levels need to be raised even higher.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Paying Artists Is Good For You

I attended a discussion at Eastside Projects entitled Not Paying Artists Is Bad For You, a public sounding board for the Paying Artists campaign. Led by current advocates for the campaign in Birmingham, Ruth Claxton, Associate Director of Eastside Projects, and Cheryl Jones, Director of Grand Union, the event focused on discussing the issue of securing payment for artists who work in publicly-funded galleries. This may seem to be a straight-forward good idea (after all, artists need to eat too) but forms part of a very worrying state of affairs as we descend into an economy in which fewer and fewer visual artists will be able to sustain their practice unless something changes.

The panel: Elizabeth Rowe / Toby Watley / One Five West / Gavin Wade / Dorothy Wilson / Stuart Whipps

Each speaker presented a short provocation relating to the topic, including GW talking of claiming back the immense value that art generates through public good, and recent graduates OFW (Anna Horton & Sophie Bullock) asking why education doesn't set art out as a viable form of employment. Questions were then pinged around the room from audience to host to speakers and back, addressing wider concerns around the perceived undervaluation of the arts, a lack of guidance or structure surrounding payment, and the risk of finance as a barrier to making.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

All-Nighters: The Dos & Don'ts

It makes some kind of twisted sense that my first wellbeing topic would be about staying up all night. Known for my nocturnal nature - made obvious by being the only person still tweeting at 4am - I find that creativity can really come alive when the lights go out; something I wrote about in more detail in What Hath Night To Do With Sleep? - an article featured in Another Escape #4. However, whether you like staying up or not, sometimes you are presented with a task that may need an overnight push, such as a university deadline, a quick turn-around commission, or a personal goal that you're just desperate to get done whilst your earthly hours are taken up.

Whatever your reason for going all night, here are some things to think about before you sail boldly into early morning oblivion.