Thursday, 23 May 2013

Ennoia - from my archive

Moved to a gallery location, these balloon shapes were originally filled with wild flower seeds and hung from trees in the grounds of Queen Mary's College, where they were to be allowed to decay and deposit the seed on the ground to grow.

I graduated as a mature student in 1995 and was incredibly lucky to "fall" into a teaching post almost immediately.  It was one of those accidents of fate; I was stoney broke, having used a credit card to pay my degree show expenses and was standing around at the local sixth form college waiting for my son to enrol when a lovely teacher I was acquainted with asked me what I was planning to do now that I had graduated.  On my reply that I needed to earn some money, quickly as I had debts to pay off, preferably using my skills, he beckoned me into an office and told me I could teach the Adult Education art and design course.  It was that easy. . . .  I should add that I had begun to know this teacher from conversations about art that we had while I participated in a sculpture workshop that he facilitated during one summer at the college.

I settled into the Adult Ed. curriculum, learning as I went and getting good results, which culminated in my employment as a part time teacher across the curriculum of the day time courses.  It was sheer joy!  I loved working with those young people, however "difficult" some of them were at times.

During this time, working part time during the day and still running the Adult Ed. course, (can you believe, I was actually teaching two courses at once in the evening sessions at times?) I completed the City and Guilds Teaching Certificate parts 1 and 2.  

In the middle of all this, two friends, whom I had met at the brilliant part time foundation course we did at Basingstoke College of Technology, and I formed an artist group.  We were different kinds of practitioners yet we felt we had similar concerns and sensitivities within what we made.  We called ourselves Ennoia, which is a Greek word, if my memory serves me correctly, which roughly means "a thought not yet fully formed".  We thought this was rather lovely both in sound and meaning, allowing for the enigmatic in our art making.  

This sculpture is part of the refurbishment of a small outside but enclosed patio area.  It became, with the help of the Learning Support students, a seaside retreat!  The sculpture consists of small, fired clay shapes, modelled on seaside forms, threaded onto flexible metal poles set into a concrete base.  Surrounded by other forms and ephemera, it was a treasure trove of objects and shapes, just like a real beach!

All three of us had an interest in people that are marginalised within our society; the disabled, elderly etc.  My teaching at Queen Mary's College enabled us to quickly make contact with the Learning Support department and we formed a working relationship with them, which resulted in two residencies on site.

These were early days for digital cameras, so I have been having difficulty finding photographs of these two projects, coupled with the great sadness of the deaths of my two dear friends and colleagues, Sue Offord and Jane Haines, which meant that access to their materials on the subject was impossible.  I am sure that I have some printed photographs in a box somewhere, but for now I present the digital record that I have of our work together.

When I find the rest of the photographs, I'll post them up; I remember that some of them were really lovely and showed the other part of the first residency that included the balloons, which was a series of hanging artworks consisting of small drawings inserted into clear plastic CD covers, stitched together and suspended within the hut space we were using to create art work to walk through.  Happy days!

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