Artist in Residence, Sidney Cooper Gallery – KRAN Workshops
On Monday mornings during our residency at Sidney Cooper Gallery the FDRG is running a series of workshops with a group of young people who are supported Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN). The workshops follow the exhibition theme of Catching the Light and each week we undertake activities, discussions and screenings which will culminate in a short fulldome film by the end of the residency.
In the first session Michaela French, Rose Leahy and Anna Dakin introduced the Catching the Light exhibition and our inflatable dome. The young people are unaccompanied asylum seekers aged 16 to 18 and for some of them it was their first visit to an art gallery, but the theme of light went beyond language and culture. We had discussions about camera obscura, pinhole cameras, tracking the sun and recording light in different ways. Initially we’d been concerned about whether the enclosed space of the inflatable dome would prove difficult for some of the students, so we let them inflate the dome themselves and provided them with torches. After a brief moment’s pause at the door, they tumbled inside without a second thought. They loved the dome, relaxed during the screening and they came out smiling and excited. Following the screening we spoke about light, using images to prompt discussion about how we experience different types of light. Drawing became the main tool for communication, so with diagrams, pictures and keywords we traversed the heat of the midday sun, the cool calm of moonlight, the joy of Vietnamese moon cakes, the speed at which electric light can fill a room, the thrill of capturing a sunset in a photograph, the appreciation of shadows and the many associations of candlelight. The results from our visual conversation were posted on our studio wall.
Michaela and Anna planned the initial structure for the sessions; diagrams, pictures and arrows always a crucial component for a good workshop plan.
Rose recalled stories about light over breakfast in advance of the first session, her favourite was about heliotropic flowers.
The studio wall. An evolving record of our conversations about catching the light.
Electric light is the correct answer….Our second workshop with the KRAN young people focused on light painting as a way of catching light and making content for the fulldome. After screening more fulldome films, Kelly Spanou and Kate McLean helped the students draw simple shapes on paper which could be translated into 12 frame light painting animations. Initially, there was some confusion about where and how the light would be painted, but after a short demonstration and distributing 40 finger torches the students were on a mission. They each made their own light sequence and then organised themselves into groups to realise more complex ideas. They relaxed, made jokes, became performers and played with mixing different colour light to produce new outcomes. They were inventive and delightful. Next week we will meet again to make short films around the city of Canterbury with our 360º camera.
Working drawings for an animated sun.
Single frames from the young people’s light painting sequences.