Jerwood Gallery Rachael Howard Activity

I thought I’d share my planning for an activity I’m running based on the Rachael Howard show at The Jerwood Gallery. I’m doing this activity with an individual group, so you can’t come I’m afraid!  But you don’t need much stuff…you might like to go along and try it with your kids over the Summer.

There’s always the challenge in gallery education of not being able to make a mess in galleries…no paint, scissors, glue etc is allowed for obvious reasons. It’s basically pencil and paper. Rachael’s paintings are full of gesture, dribbling paint, mixed media etc so it’s tricky to find a way of emulating her approach in the gallery.  I reckon the plan I’ve got here is about enjoying the pictures and taking as gestural approach as possible in the gallery by working biggish with pencil. The work produced can be taken home and painted on, cut up, glued on and messed about with, where large scale gestural painting is surely a must for everyone’s Summer holiday.

Materials: ready cut A2 ish pieces of patterned wallpaper,  plain paper, big dark pencils, various objects to draw round.

  1. Choose a picture. Look at it for a while, let it work its magic on you
  2. Have an open chat about the picture…whatever any one thinks is of course fine, there’s no wrong answer, the experience of paintings like these is very subjective
  3. make a collection of words that come out of this chat. Jot them down. I’ll do this with the group and get people to share the words together
  4. Use visual ingredients in Rachael’s work to make  images that use the words as a starting point. The designs might  include the actual words. They might illustrate the words quite directly or use them in an abstract/ ironic/ surprising way. You might use just one, two or several of the words. The image could include any visual elements in Rachael’s work, perhaps: start with a horizon line, vertical and horizontal repeated lines that could vary distort and degrade, drawing on top of the wall paper, drawing on the plain paper, using repeated patterns by drawing round the objects, along with more spontaneous gestural marks. I think the use of the words give it a bit of an anchor and starting point but you might choose not to.
  5. People can make as many or as few images as they like and work on more than one at the same time. Some images will work beautifully in a couple of minutes, others will take the whole session. Some will be very layered others will have just a few marks.  The idea is to enjoy experimenting intuitively with the language of marks, pattern and space and how these elements can be used to communicate.The children will be encouraged to make judgements about the moment the image ‘works’. A totally subjective decision!
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