I managed to squeeze in a school visit to Bredhurst Primary in Gillingham at the beginning of October but now with current restrictions these events have become rare.
I was aware of the need to make the visit Covid-compliant. Due to class bubbles a whole-school assembly was out of the question so instead I produced a mini version of my talk in video form (see below) in order to give some insight into my practice. It had the happy consequence of my being greeted by children on the day who seemed to know me already.
The card for the workshops was pre-packaged and then only handed out by the teaching staff. During the workshops, I did my usual thing, but at a distance, teachers did all the close up checking and helping. I made more of the demo part of the session where I turn a pop-up mechanism into a finished 3D spread using the children’s story ideas. And I made sure everyone had all the information they needed to finish the group pop-up books after I had moved on to the next class.
The school felt surprisingly normal but they had clearly put in many important measures to keep everyone safe – no sharing of equipment (I had to keep reminding myself not to borrow scissors or gluesticks), staggered playtimes and hand sanitiser everywhere. I also had to exit the building and make my way around the outside of the school to get from class to class.
It’s not clear when things will go back to normal but it’s been an opportunity to explore new ways of interacting with schools. Things like Zoom, for example, seem to work well and will be a useful addition going forward, especially for schools further afield. However, it can never replace the wonderful feeling of interacting live with the children that I experienced at Bredhurst and all the other schools I’ve visited in the past.
Latest pop-up tutorial in the series.
Make a pop-up rainbow for your favourite NHS person.
I’m very grateful to the schools that have invited me in over the years to talk about my work, run workshops and share my pop-up skills. I wanted to offer them something during this difficult time so I’ve been creating a series of online pop-up tutorials.
I’m currently editing video number 4. Each one deals with an aspect of paper-engineering – parallel fold, v fold, platform fold and so forth and the designs will become more complicated over time. My intention is to continue to make the videos even after everything turns back to normal – whenever that might be. Also, I’ve always wanted to provide people with a resource after they’ve done my workshops and now seemed as good a time as any to create it.
Quite rightly, no comments are allowed on the YouTube videos intended for families and kids but if you have any questions about the techniques, feel free to ask me here.
I’ll be running a series of adult workshops in pop-up design at the High Sun Solstice Camp in Cambridgeshire along with Irma Irsara. We’ll also be creating a large-scale, moving bird based on the prototypes in the video below.
The design will be similar to a pop-up book mechanism – think of the bird’s wings as pages of a book. The mouth will also open and close by means of a string at the back of the head and elastic inside the beak and we’ll be using natural material from the forest to decorate the creature. There’s been a certain amount of advance planning and trouble shooting ahead of time on this one, in order to make things run smoothly and keep everyone engaged.
High Sun is organised by my friend Jonathan Lambert who I had the pleasure of working with on one of Wordpepper’s children’s theatre productions.
I’ll be running two half-term workshops at the Verulamium Museum (The Museum of Everyday Life in Roman Britain) in St. Albans next month. Verulamium was the third largest city of Roman Britain and the museum stands on the site of the Roman town.
Both workshops are based around the theme of the Roman kitchen, allowing plenty of scope for food, implements, vessels, tools, pets and other rooms in the background. Workshop 1 will consist of making simple individual pop-up frameworks and adding the various elements to build up a 3D picture.
Workshop 2 (free) is a drop-in session where you get to help co-create a giant work of three dimensional art! The children will create and add the elements to a large pre-prepared, collapsible, cardboard framework, using the museum’s exhibits for inspiration. The finished piece will be displayed at the museum for a short period of time.
Further information about the workshops and the museum:
The Word Festival is an innovative programme of activities, events and workshops focusing on and exploring the pleasure of reading, writing and freedom of expression in Islington. Launched in 2012, and delivered annually since then, the Word Festival Programme is a partnership initiative between Islington Council’s Library and Heritage Services, Arts Service, All Change and Free Word.
This year artist Irma Irsara and I are proud to co-produce an event with Word17 at Finsbury Park Trust on Saturday 17th June (full details below). We’ll be running two workshops in pop-up design, illustration and wordplay for small children and their families. Make your very own pop-up creations by learning to develop basic mechanisms to create more complex designs, all in easy-to-follow steps.
It’s also an opportunity to develop spatial awareness and explore ideas of transformation while practicing construction and craft-making skills. At the same time, we will be exploring descriptive wordplay in a fun and accessible way.
The starting point is the idea of someone special to you and how you would describe them using individual words and phrases. We are also interested in the idea of different languages. The event is targeted at younger children who are beginning to connect words and construct sentences.
The workshops are free and all materials are supplied – you just bring the creativity.
Suitable for children age 5 and upwards along with parents and carers.
Saturday 17th June 2017, 11am – 1pm & 2 – 4pm
Finsbury Park Trust, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, London N4 2DF
No booking required – arrive early to avoid disappointment.
See the full Word programme here: Word Festival Brochure 2017
Below are images from our Word events in 2014 with Islington Museum.
For those who missed my workshop at the Geffrye Museum last week, fear not, here’s the tutorial. Learn two mechanisms and create a chick that flies out of an egg, before coming up with some designs of your own.
The workshop was organized by Hackney Arts as part of their Kids Who Can – Easter Arts Club. Check out some of the creations from the day at the bottom of the post, including a few alternative designs.
Below are some examples of the great work produced by the kids at my workshop at the Verulamium Museum, St Albans yesterday.
The workshop was linked to a bigger project, All In It Together, run St Albans Arts Team, with the aim of exploring ideas of propaganda versus reality with particular reference to World War 1 – a lot of the posters were produced at the time by St Albans based printers Dangerfields at the time.
The children created swing cards with pop-up elements which showed transformation from slogan-based designs to depictions of destroyed landscapes inspired by the work of Paul Nash. Some wanted to depict other wars – WW2, the Blitz, evacuation – creating narratives around stories they heard from grandparents, parents or school.
Back from Budapest where I spent time working with the kids and staff at the British International School. I was helped by the school’s wonderful librarian who acted as my wing-woman for the entire 3 days and made sure everything ran to schedule.
After my initial school talk, I ran a series of workshops with all classes where I showed the children how to make their own pop-up books.
A pattern for the sessions emerged fairly early on when I matched each class to a mechanism, guiding them through the process so they all had a completed pop-up framework ready to go. Following a discussion about their storyboard ideas – the blank storyboards were sent ahead of my arrival – I used some of their material to demonstrate how to convert mechanism into fully illustrated 3D scene. Some of the images show these, others show the children’s work-in-progress.
The school places huge importance on reading and runs several initiatives to encourage the love of books. At a certain point each day, everyone drops everything to read for five minutes. The doors were also being decorated as book covers while I was there – check out the Detective Paws ‘door cover’.