Due to the current Covid regulations, this project will only be seen online
Right to create
Campaign for assisted studio spaces
Participating artists: Larry, John, Christopher, Kieran, Sandra, Johnny, Dorethy, Sarah and all the artists from the 'Tangible Selves' project. The project is curated by Ngaire Jackson and Bronagh Lawson
Ends 06 February 2021
Everyone has the right to create art and to share the result...shaping your cultural identity and having it recognized by others is central to human dignity. (Francois Matarasso)
Belfast lacks assisted studio spaces for adults, who require some help in their studio practice, perhaps because of a learning difficulty or other issue. Models like KCAT in Kilkenny, ActionSpace, London, KMAdotcom in Midlothian, Scotland, Project Ability in Glasgow, Crawford Supported Studios in Cork or Project Onward in Chicago exist around the world that supports adults and affords its artists career opportunities and expands the cultural participation of marginalised groups; and so we ask: why not here?
Right to create- Installation view
The selected artists have a love of art and have developed their practice so far on various short term projects at changing locations in the city.
This project wants to show their work to a wider public and offer our space for open workshops and new work- or that was the intention before the lockdown.
Still, we have installed the project 'in real', made a film documentation and shifted the talks and conversations to Zoom.
Through talks and presentations by participating as well as interested artists and organisations, like Moon Base, Belfast, we want to lobby for assisted studio provisions in the city.
Online conversations programme
Through public Zoom talks and presentations by participating as well as interested artists and organisations like Moon Base and KCAT, we want to lobby for assisted studio provisions in the city.
If you are interested to take part in any of the Zoom conversations or online workshop, please email email@example.com and we will send you the link.
Thursday, 14 January, 7pm
Alastair MacLennan in conversation with Bronagh Lawson
Alastair MacLennan, Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at Belfast School of Art, has had a connection with KCAT for a number of years, collaborating with their artists and making the introduction for Bronagh Lawson and Ngaire Jackson to visit and be inspired by what they have achieved. This conversation gives an opportunity for those not familiar with the assisted studio concept to understand how it can work and the level of work produced. There will be an opportunity to ask questions online.
Wednesday, 20 January, 1-2pm
Conversation with Paula Larkin and Riann Coulter, Curator and Manager of FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, chaired by Bronagh Lawson.
Riann Coulter of FE McWilliams Gallery offers an important Art spot in the arts ecosystem, in 2019 KCAT held an important exhibition of their artists there, this will be an opportunity to talk about that experience and comment on the calibre of the art produced and thoughts on assisted studios.
Paula Larkin has been working as a programmer, curator, ally and advocate for disabled artists for over 10 years, both independently and with various arts and disability organisations across Ireland. She has presented on the importance of supporting, resourcing and platforming disabled artists at conferences in Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, and from 2017-2019 worked as Arts Development Officer for University of Atypical in Belfast where she programmed the work of artists from KCAT in Kilkenny, Project Ability in Glasgow and Crawford Supported Studios in Cork. Paula is currently living and working in Derry where she has been collaborating with CCA Derry-Londonderry on plans to bring a supported studio to Derry city.
Thursday, 21 January, 7-8pm
Panel discussion with artists from Moon Base
Panel discussion with artists from Moon Base: Maureen, Matthew and Sarah, facilitated by Seonaid; Ngaire Jackson and Bronagh Lawson. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
Tuesday, 26 January, 10-11am
Open Communal shared drawing with Alastair MacLennan
Gather up any mark making materials you have in the house and some paper and together we will spend some time making open communal shared drawing. No previous experience required all family members welcome. We will declare our right to create.
Thursday 28 January 7-8pm
Conversation with Deirdre McKenna University of Atypical and TBC, chaired by Bronagh Lawson.
Deirdre McKenna of University of Atypical has a lifelong experience of looking at art, producing it and encouraging others, all while organising arts activities. This conversation will give an opportunity for Deirdre to comment on the need for assisted studios from the perspective of the University of Atypical.
Zara Lyness was the workshop artist for the Moon Base group in the Tangible Selves project, teaching ceramic’s via Zoom. Her first experience of working with artists that require assistance was the Hydrangea Project Still Bunker, 2018, with 32 adults involved. Zara will talk about her experience. She is currently studying for her MFA at Belfast school of Art.
Conversation with KCAT, Kilkenny
If you are interested to take part in any of the Zoom conversations or online workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and will send you the link.
The process of working with adults with learning difficulties.
Taking time to watch, listen and learn.
The more time you have and the better you know each other, the richer the communication and therefore the experience. The longer you have to prepare for, and to actually work with individuals with Learning Difficulties, the richer the experience. Work carried out over a number of months, is far more effective than a two-hour workshop – no matter how brilliant.
Taking time to get to know the individuals is key to working with adults with learning difficulties.
Taking time to watch, listen and learn creates a working environment where a very personal visual language is allowed to emerge. A recurring style/motif/colour is part of a rich individual visual language, recognized, encouraged and developed.
Sketchbooks & portfolios
Introducing participants to sketchbooks and the use of portfolios can be been key to the development of their art practice. Sketchbooks can be used at home for self-directed study and portfolios to retain and keep and view the progression of their work.
Make your mark.
How to begin?
Using simple drawing tools, paper and permanent single colour markers, participants can be encouraged to simply ‘make a mark’ and repeat it on the paper, making marks leads to creating beautiful and unique patterns. Working with a permanent marker means ‘nothing is wrong’, nothing needs to be rubbed out, or indeed can be rubbed out. Every mark matters. This activity is designed to be failure-free with instant results and can be the catalyst for building confidence in adults with learning disabilities to draw, paint and create.
Experimenting with materials & techniques
Using a combination of different media gives participants more ways to express themselves. This may be as simple as combining drawing and painting or creating a background of different papers to work over with paint or ink. It is interesting to explore collage techniques, or to use found objects.
The opportunity to try out different materials and techniques forms an integral part of the process from drawing and painting and collaging, watercolours, acrylics, oils and clay, a rich abundance of choice of materials, old and new techniques, provides for a rich and awarding experience in the creative process.
Why the need for assisted studios
Everyone, regardless of ability should have access to a creative world – as students, participants and artists.
There is no dedicated art space for people with learning disabilities in Northern Ireland. For people with learning disabilities assisted studios would provide a stable and assured continuity in their lives where students could realistically aspire to a meaningful art practice.
What adults with learning difficulties need, is very basic; a secure place to progress their work, plus a sense of like-minded people nearby.
A space that you could really call your own and build a practice.
This project also includes some of the outcomes of the Tangible Selves project with participants from the Moon Base.
right to create will show the work of artists who need support in their practice and campaign for assisted workplaces in Belfast/ Northern Ireland.
About the artists
Andrew Pike, artist at KCAT
‘Waiting for Bucket’ is a short animation film by Andrew Pike who is an artist at KCAT. In true Pike satirical style, five famous Irish writers, AE Russell, Bernard Shaw, Brendan Behan, WB Yeats and Samuel Beckett with Gussy all have an encounter at a bus stop.
‘Waiting for Bucket’ was developed over a four-and-a-half-year period. In that time Andrew worked with filmmaker Éamonn Little to complete the production. Drawing on the themes and title of the seminal Becket work ‘Waiting for Godot’, Pike playfully developed plot lines, story and characters for his third animation.
Though most well-known for his paintings, Pike has gained a reputation as a multidisciplinary artist, with interests and projects working in theatre, film and design. He has award-winning animations to his credit as well as co-designing the Big River Parade with Sinéad Fahey and Macnas.
Andrew has a considerable track level of exhibiting in Ireland and Internationally. He has shown work at leading galleries, institution and festivals, including The Butler Gallery Kilkenny, Galway Arts Centre, Film Base Dublin, British Film Institute and the Belgrade International Film Festival. His work is represented in national and private collections including The National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland. In 2019, he received an honorary fellowship from GMIT in recognition of his contribution to the arts. In addition to his artwork, Andrew has been a regular speaker at symposia, conferences and artist talks, speaking about his work, advocacy and various related interests.
Larry’s work reflects his interest in the everyday, what is going on around him. He draws mostly in pencils and felt pens, using bright, primary colours whilst carefully thinking about each image and composition. He works from life and memory, and makes images of everyday life in Belfast, portraits of characters, and scenes informed by visits to shopping centres, parks etc. Words are also very important to Larry: he transcribes words into journals and notebooks. There is a strong narrative and illustrative aspect to his work. His drawings range from stark graphic simplicity to complex narrative pieces, all linked by his unique gentle humour. Often Larry’s written ideas merge together creating intriguing titles for work. Poundstretcher on a Sunny Afternoon, Leaving Belfast in a Hot Air Balloon.
Kieran has a manipulation of his materials that consumes the page with a soft, fluidity. Working in a moody, colourful style, he recreates still-life objects in a particular blend of still-life seriality. With a love of simple form bounded by strong spatial awareness each composition is always aesthetically appealing. He chronicles the banal with a uniquely activated script. His drawings of pot-plants, chairs, light-fittings etc. reflect on his quiet personality as well as his innermost thoughts and feelings.
Sandra loves painting and experimenting with different media to create her artwork. Her large colourful paintings are sometimes brought together into free-form books which seem to tell a visual story that she delights in narrating. Her work is intuitive, intimate and quirky. It suggests animated people, objects, and landscapes that capture her unique and extrovert nature.
John’s drawings explore the human form. He works in pencil, watercolour and acrylic, sometimes sketching experimentally and at other times creating confident, portraits of himself and the people around him.
In recent works he has experimented with abstracting the human figure: either simplifying it or depicting it in a way that isn’t necessarily straightforward, often distorting elements of the body. John’s twisted figures express a sense of the psychological pain and anguish that people sometimes experience.
Johnny is a painter, creating large-scale, colourful paintings and
a regular participant of the Moon Base group. He is very enthusiastic about his idol Bridget Riley.
Johnny, painting 2
Johnny, painting 1
Tangible Selves participants
This project was a collaboration of PS² and participants of Moon Base, and was funded by Halifax Foundation Northern Ireland. Moon Base Projects is an umbrella programme for and by people with learning disabilities run by The Black Box with Outreach Officer Seonaid Murray.
The Creating Connections group meet every Tuesday for a range of Arts based workshops and activities. The group have taken part in; Music, Visual Arts, Dancing; Storytelling; Drama; Poetry and more over the last seven years.
Moon Base Projects create a safe, positive environment for people to express themselves through the Arts. Moon Base Group members are encouraged to be as Creative as they want to be, to ask questions; be curious and use their voice!
Tangible Selves- workshop outcome
Image top: Christopher Simpson
Many Thanks to Andrew Pike and KCAT allowing us to share the animation.