Sometimes there are things you would rather not re-visit from childhood. And other times you just want the whole adult world to shut down so you can sit in the art room and paint all day like when you were at school.
City Gallery Wellington have a great support organisation called 'The City Gallery Foundation' which I am a member of. It helps bring cool exhibitions to Wellington, supports the Gallery and also you get to participate in exclusive experiences. The best thing about being part of the City Gallery Foundation is you are helping everyone to enjoy public art, something I feel very passionate about. Also, City Gallery is a brilliant gallery which brings international collections to Wellington frequently for people to go and see for free, something we can all get behind! At school and University I studied art history, so while not everyone may feel like I do about art, I wanted to share this for those who do.
Last week, I brought my friend Casey with me to get involved with a special tour unlike anything else I'd done before at the Gallery, thanks to the City Gallery Foundation. We were given the whole school art experience that children do when they visit the Gallery. And so our inner children were brought out, in my case joyfully but a least initially for Casey a little reluctantly - Casey admitted she was no fan of art at school. But like a trooper, she came (there was also wine).
City Gallery Wellington run a program where classes of children from schools come and have a session with experts from the Gallery about whatever exhibition is currently on. The Gallery is devoted to educating children about art so they have a workshop just for putting on workshops with kids. On this night, it was the adults however who were getting to enjoy the fun.
We arrived and were shown upstairs. The Gallery was in transition between the Francis Upritchard show 'Jealous Saboteurs' and the new Cindy Sherman exhibition being installed. It was like seeing into someone's private dressing room, seeing the Gallery stripped bare. Another exhibition, Sister Corrita's Summer of Love, in the upper gallery, was also about to be sent back to its owners so we were some of the last to see them (I had already been to the exhibition twice but very much enjoyed going again).
Once gathered, we were introduced to the Education team from the Gallery. We were told we were going to have the exact treatment that school children do. The Head of the Education Programme talked us through how they explain the works to children and then like they did for the little ones, they sent us all on a 'treasure hunt' to find shapes in the paintings of letters. She then explained how letters can be distorted and changed and how they talk about the difference between serif and sans serif fonts with the children. Most children have already heard of the difference, something that impressed me a lot!
Viewfinders were then produced. We walked about, looking through them, as Sister Corrita's pupils were instructed to. I joked these were the original Instagram (*groan, Lucy*). Then we moved through into the room where a film was showing, and then finally into the art studio.
On our desks were paper, glue, and letters outlined. We were told how we were going to make our screen prints and then we set forth. Everyone was allocated a letter of the alphabet and I was happy to get an 'H' - the initial of my mother's first name.
We cut out shapes, gluing them down, and then cut the shape out in reverse of our letter. Then we brought the paper to the press and selected the paint. Finally, using a rubber/wooden slab, we drew the shape over the mesh and let the paint seep through. We put the pictures to dry on the line, giving them a fast blow dry.
Making prints at City Gallery was one of the most interesting and positive experiences I've had as an adult with art. I love that City Gallery Foundation gives you an insight behind the scenes of our amazing gallery, a true hub of art and culture in Wellington. Should you wish to look into joining, I've linked it here. Just goes to show, you are never too old to get creative with your little boy or girl inside.