Estuary Lab

The week-long Wales Lab led by Artist Jony Easterby, Walk the Plank director Liz Pugh and Jenny Hall explored physical, mythological and conceptual ideas for the inspiration of a new event.Blessed with writers, scientists and anthropologists among our collective of artists and makers we explored narratives and undertook practical experiments into space, performance, structure, architecture, archaeology and form in the intertidal zone of the estuary.

Out of the experiments and ideas generated at Wales Lab, Jony Easterby went on to produce the absolutely beautiful For the Birds, an immersive night time journey into a wild avian landscape at the Ynys Hir bird reserve.Jenny Hall went on to produce Urchins at the no. 6 festival with a collective of makers with whom she is currently devising an expanded Urchins journey to the Environmental Arts Festival Scotland 2015.

Photos by Jony Easterby

Sounding the river: Wood Lab

mac birmingham offered nine IdeasTap members the chance to conceive and create a site-specific artwork for Sounding the River, mac’s outdoor sound and light spectacle that took place in October 2012.

Sounding the River was a nocturnal exploration of nature through artworks curated by Jony Easterby and artists who have a reputation for transforming the outdoors into fascinating, playful places that enthral adults and children alike.

The four-day “wood lab” led by Craftedspace, explored urban dens and the themes of rhythm, movement, focus, arrival and departure. During the workshop the participants defined spaces using timber, natural materials and low voltage lighting. Hard skills included peeling wood, simple joinery, weaving willow and basic wiring of 12V circuits.

They had the opportunity to tour the production site and meet the artists at work as well as return to see the show and their own creations lit at night.

Photo 1 by Rosheen McNamee, 2, 3 & 4 by Jenny Hall, 5 & 7 by mac Birmingham, 6 by Tabitha Pope

Play, space and performance workshop

Dr Andrew Filmer and I discussed how the Woodland Pavilion’s aim to create playful space was limited by the perceived risk of its accessible, unsupervised location. We wanted to explore the idea of a loose fit theory of architecture, proposed in his Phd, that to make space for creativity we need to be able to manipulate our environment: to co-create it.Through a Reverse SIP grant we were able to develop a workshop using cardboard boxes designed to be strong enough to stand on, that could stack and connect together to create an environment for exploration.

We invited performers, actors and choreographers to place their bodies on, around, within and in relation to the boxes, playing with notions of manufacture (of the boxes themselves from flat pack), structure building, taking apart and moving as well as the qualities of the boxes as instruments, echo chambers and projectiles.We liked the boxes. They smelt nice, were comfortable to sit on and created great opportunities for play. There is a great potential for developing the box(es) as a theatre set, in the words of Brith Gof Director Mike Pearson as ‘an interpenetration of people and environment.’

Photos by Giles W. Bennett

Woodland design lab

“…an inspired group of designers constructed three awesome pieces of art cum architecture in just one and a half days – including the incredible wooden Skybowl you can see above”Inhabitat.com

Thanks to all the people who came along and made it such a wonderful experience.

We could have stayed a month exploring all the material possibilities and interpreting the site through visual and spatial means. However we had little more than 2 days and the outcomes are a testament to our belief that not providing a brief would allow space for genuine creativity to soar unbounded.

3 ideas made it through testing to final pieces. The skybowl and Piddle, paddle, plonk reside near our base camp. The third piece located deep in the woods was inspired by the idea that all life comes from death and had as its focus the root ball of a fallen oak tree. This became the starting point for the piece called Bioshroom, also known as Rhizome, now named Fungidome by the kids who are camping at Graig Wen who have come to love the sculptures and care for them in all their fragility and impermanence.

Ewan aged about 11 said that “Fungidome is a combination of wood, tools and a bit of imagination.”

And Charlotte aged 10 said that “Piddle, Paddle, Plonk is the best because it plays music a bit like a xylophone but in the water, although Skybowl is quite good when you lay in it at night watching the stars because there’s nobody there and its relaxing.”

Links to the event:

Tafline Laylin wrote a lovely article for Inhabitat as our embedded journalist for the event as well as another piece for Green Prophet.

You can find out more about Jenny & Tabitha’s experience running the design lab at Jenny’s blog and Tabitha’s account of the design lab here.

Check out footage of Piddle Paddle Plonk on You tube.

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