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Play with Shape 3-7 workshop 12.08.08

After a brief look at the difference between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ shapes using the exhibition to find them we sat down to paint our own shapes and imagine them as our family and friends. They very much enjoyed this activity but found it hard to think of ‘irregular’ shapes as it did not come instinctively like thinking of squares or circles etc. So we overlapped two shapes to create an irregular shape and this became a template for shapes which we then cut out at least 14 times to create a ‘journey’ around the space. They loved the vivid colours of the neon card and this was also a new range of colour in the space.

The participants really enjoyed cutting out the shapes and watching them change slightly each time they cut out from their template and imagining what they might be. We had a ‘duck’ and a spacerocket in there – perhaps you might still find them in the space!

Then the participants each spun around a certain number of times into the space keeping their eyes closed to determine the place randomly from which they would begin their ‘journey’ with their shapes. As they almost all landed in the middle this is why our ‘map’ of ‘journey’s’ is mostly laid out on the floor. With their parents they lead the shapes towards the wall and then were directed to meet with another participant to join up the ‘journey’s’. This worked really well but we all felt that we wished we had cut more shapes or had more participants as then we could have gone crazy all over the space!

The children themselves were very pleased with what they had created and were very enthusiastic to say how much they had enjoyed the workshop.

Workshop Leader: Penny Davis


Saturday 16th August 2008 Workshop 9


There were six participants for the adult workshop on Saturday 16th August.

In preparation for the workshop the space was darkened and two large sheets of white paper were put up on the wall.

Each person deconstructed a small box with the idea being that when projected the box could turn into an elevation of a building – so from the net of a small box to the side elevation of a piece of architecture or with a perceptual shift, the plan of a building.

They were encouraged to cut bits out of the box to create an interesting shape which was then put onto the OHP and projected onto the wall covered in paper.

Responding to the shadows they used marker pens to draw round the areas they found interesting – some selecting the whole shape and others just part of the cast shadows.

As each person finished plotting their shape the next person placed their flattened box on the OHP. People then selected coloured tape to go over the lines of the shape drawn on the wall.


Shadows on the wall

Shadows on the wall



An image of interest was then thought about and traced or drawn on a sheet of acetate or some people chose to cut out the shape of an image, this was projected by the OHP onto the wall and painted.


An image to make a connection with the first image was cut out from a coloured gel, put onto the OHP and projected onto the paper – projecting the image over the outlines of other peoples’ shapes was encouraged.  The idea of collaboration and not being precious about the marks that had been made was one of the important ideas. The gel was kept on the OHP and the person painted over the shape on the wall having selected a colour that would change when the gel was taken away. The gel was moved a bit at a time to create an animation with the digital camera. As the gel was moved the colour changed and the original paint colour was revealed.

It was interesting to see how the gel projected onto the painted shape changed the colour and how this could be used in explaining colour theory and testing out different colour combinations.


Many processes in colour

Many processes in colour



We took a break for lunch and came back to create a collaborative animation in the afternoon.


A0 sized maps had been printed of the plan of the centre of Leicester and the participants were asked to select shapes on the maps using the shapes of the roads and buildings which would be cut out to create interesting shapes.

Shapes from the maps were cut up and randomly mixed up so each person could select a different shape from the one that they had been working on. These were then stuck onto a large sheet of cardboard to create a skyline or horizon and would be the background layer for the animation. The tricky operation of cutting round the shapes stuck to the cardboard was undertaken.  Some areas of the buildings were coloured in paint or tape.


For the next step of finding a character each person selected a shape from the network of shapes and patterns on the wall – there was a head of a dog, a crow’s head, an onion, a hedgehog amongst others. These shapes were cut out and then backed on cardboard to give them strength and stability. The shapes left from the images cut out were then painted with a roller in red paint – this process was animated on the stills camera.


The next process was to assemble all the elements to create the animation – so to construct the scene one cardboard length with the skyline of buildings, created from the cut up maps, was taped to the front of a long trestle table and the remaining length was fixed on the back of the table to create a sense of depth.  The table with these backgrounds was positioned in front of the original wall drawing to create a sense of colour and atmosphere.


Animation frame

Animation frame



People holding their characters were then encouraged to interact in the environment of the city-scape and move around the set under the direction of Natalia who was taking photos every few seconds. This was all captured using the digital camera and would later be turned into an animation. Coloured gels on the spot-light added to the atmosphere.


We finished the workshop by asking all the participants to come to the celebration event on Tuesday 19th August and to contribute to the online blog with comments and thoughts on a very enjoyable day.


Workshop Leaders:

Measure by Measure



Fran Caputo

Verona Moitt

Betahn Cooper

Gina Mollett

Rebecca Barker

Louisa Humphreys

Wednesday 6th August 2008 Workshop 8


Epic Workshop 8


Workshop 8 is starting with five of us. Our two participants are George (returning from the second workshop) and his friend Dan. We all talk about a topic that is of interest to us and we search on the internet to find an image that best represents it. We end up with a collection of images including a fighter aeroplane, a Star Wars trooper, a poisonous rainforest frog, Doomsday -a character from a Superman comic- and a sci-fi troop carrier ship. We print out these images and want to project them large on the wall. To do that we have a selection of choices: we could place an acetate on the image and trace around it with a pen; when this is projected on the wall you get black lines like a drawing. We could also cut out around the image and place that cut out piece of paper on the OHP. When projected this will give us the image as a shadow on a lit wall. Alternatively we could remove the cut out shape of our image and place the remaining piece of paper (the ‘frame’) on the OHP. That will give as our image lit up on a darkened wall. We use all three ways to project the images and we use tape to mark the outline of each projection. Each topic of interest is now marked on the wall, having lost something of its original easily recognisable image to a more abstract loosely taped outline. None of the shapes on the wall touch each other and at this stage they look like island-countries with their borders clearly defined in different colour tapes each a representation of an interest.


We then draw on an acetate a second image which is related in some way to our original one. This time these images are projected onto other people’s outlined shapes and they respond to the interferences. For instance the frog gets a large lepidopteron insect which is projected onto the wall. Its wings touching the fighter aeroplane and its body the Star Wars trooper. The ’owners’ of these shapes respond by painting and marking the areas where shapes and lines overlap. In doing so we also make connections and stories that include characters and shapes that touch each other. Fighter airplane shooting at a giant jumping poisonous frog-monster, Star Wars trooper with a fly face defending himself against a raging Doomsday throwing a tank and the dead body of a fatality of all this fighting is carried away on a troop carrier ship that’s caught fire. A sci-fi plot of epic dimensions is being unfolded on the wall. In reality when the projector is off all that can be seen is outlined shapes with parts of them painted in different colours and different marks and lines dissecting them.


Next we take coloured gels and cut out shapes that could make up part of our character-shape’ s environment. These are projected on the wall as well and we paint the part of them that does not touch any shape but falls on the white wall. As we paint the coloured gels’ projections the original colour changes. We observe a yellow gel and blue paint become a funny bug juice green and a red gel and yellow paint a bright orange. We ’walk’ the gel shapes off the projection and reveal a shape painted on the wall. At this point the wall hosts outlines of shapes partly painted and is partly painted itself. We leave this arrangement to that and will return to it later.

Yellow gel projection in blue

Yellow gel projection in blue


Meanwhile we have two blown up maps of Leicester city which are laid out on the floor. We follow streets and roads to create shapes and we cut these out. We also take long strips of thick brown card and paint them with different kinds of marks and shapes that could make up the environment of our character-shapes. We also get some tracing paper and draw a line along it. We look around the front gallery and find interesting shapes to trace. The boys find curvy shapes for a dune like landscape. We cut the tracing paper along the line and mark this line on the now painted brown card. This gets cut in half to create two horizons-landscapes. Shapes drawn and painted by participants of previous workshops get transferred to our landscape cut outs. The map cut out shapes also get arranged to create horizons. All of the horizons are placed on tables one behind the other creating a diorama environment for our characters.


lepidopteron in the city

lepidopteron in the city

Our characters are cut out from the paper on the wall. As they get released from the wall underneath them the marks and colours from previous workshops are revealed. We will later paint these exposed areas red. We are all ready behind layers of horizon landscapes made of map bits and dunes created from old lines in a sci-fi city with characters moving in their final fight. The epic plot coming to a close the frog is after the lepidopteron but Doomsday rules all in the end.



Frog looking for lunch

Frog looking for lunch

Tuesday 5th August 2008 Workshop 7

We began by talking about what interests each person and what images or objects related to their subject. The source material was diverse, from music to shoes, from animation to donkeys, from yoga to graffiti; the task was to find a large representative shape that could be used to start a visual dialogue between everyone’s interests.
The images were prepared as cut-outs or acetates and we each took turns to project them and draw them on the wall; first with pen, then we reinforced the marks by outlining the shape with coloured tape. These shapes did not physically touch each other so the character of each shape could be seen clearly. The activities that would follow were designed to create visual connections and encourage discussions about how the subjects could connect to each other. Next came the drawing of a second shape or using details from the first shape to explore one’s subject further. These images were again projected, only this time the valuable part was the point of intersection between one person’s projection and those already existing on the wall. Each person responded to the intersections on their shapes with the use of paint, either with lines or as a block of colour.

Collective shape marking

Collective shape marking

Already the distortions created from the tape and the changes made by the new painted marks helped each individual see their image change, it still could be understood as the original subject, yet the way that it was represented became both unexpected and altered from our former perceptions. As these activities progressed everyone involved found a great deal of pleasure in individualising the way that each shape was developed; for example some chose different ways to apply the tape and others different colours of paint to mark the wall.

The next task that was carried out was to develop all the work on the wall thinking about it as an entire piece. We were also developing this mass of images knowing that the shapes would be cut out and that the older layers beneath the paper would be revealed. We worked with the hope that something left behind on the paper might create new relationships with whatever was uncovered. This collaborative activity consisted of each person cutting out a small shape from coloured gel that would be placed on the OHP as to project into the spaces in between the drawn shapes. These would then be painted in any colour but that of the gel, so that visually the projection changed colour in front of our eyes.


While tucking into a nourishing packed lunch we all gathered round to watch a few animations. As well as having a relaxing break we also had the opportunity to look at various animation techniques from the medium’s short 100 year history. First up was Winsor McCay and his early “Gertie the Dinosaur” (1914), which illustrated the use of line based animation and was supplemented by the use of text narration, a convention used in the time of silent movies. This was followed by a few animations from the late 1930’s from the Fleischer studio – by this time animations were rendered in colour and had been synchronized with sound. Also we saw an advanced animation technique that consisted of filming animation cells on glass panels which, when staggered one behind the other, gave the impression of distance and motion. These animations exhibited, at times, as much as seven layers of imagery; we would later draw upon this technique for our own animation activity. A few more animations were shown, including one from the 1950’s by Columbia’s animation division and a few from a selection of contemporary British animation classics.

After Lunch we proceeded to work on developing the materials for an animation, taking a lead from the use of a multi-layered environment in the Fleischer animations we went on to develop a setting of our own. To do this we had three cardboard strips that reached across the width of the room. Firstly these were painted with colours, shapes, lines and stripes, with the idea that we would later cut into them. When painted in varying styles or completely covered in tape, as one group did, they were left to dry a little. Then we took a roll of tracing paper the same size as the cardboard panels and proceeded to work on them by using the same template generating technique that we have used for many of the earlier workshops. We drew a central line, drew outlines of shapes found in the Gallery space and made these outlines connect with the central line. The tracing paper was cut to reveal the template and then used to mark the painted panels. These panels were then cut to create two horizon like strips making eight depths of field (we beat Fleischer by one). We arranged these newly cut panels on tables and then proceed to cut out the shapes that we made in the morning to use as characters for our animation.

8 horizon layer animation

8 horizon layer animation

What occurred next was a hectic manoeuvring of shapes in a busy brightly designed environment; we attempted to catch it all on camera. We would have loved to carry on and create a longer animation but unfortunately it takes a great deal of time to prepare these materials so we poured all our energies into the time available.

We hope you enjoyed the film of the day.

Blue shapes on the wall

Blue shapes on the wall


workshop leaders:

Measure by Measure


Nidhi Naik

Tej Naik

Alisha Patel

Priyesh Mistry

Dayna Rookwood

Eleana Rayner

Isobel Rogers

Monday 4th August Workshop 6

Things to prepare:

Box of materials

Paints in trays

Printable acetates

OHP pens


Tracing paper

Name tags and register

9 am

Make the educational space:

Bring in fabric and darken it in simplest way

Unroll and animate the paper climbing the partition wall

Stick with coloured tape

Bring in and set up computer trolley

Print out images

Get out gels and step ladder

10 am

Milly and Parag arrive

Look at what Milly has brought in and ask about the website

Talk about these objects and write down the key interests and characteristics somewhere on the wall as a reference

Introduce our images and our subjects into the conversation

Look at shadows of objects on OHP

React, draw/outline/paint/tape

Seeing an object in a different scale and as a shadow changes the way that we think about it. When reacting to this change in perception we make an acknowledgement of a relationship with the original item. By using our own memory to inform a response to the shadow, the image is infused with our perception of the object.

This process proved more valuable than we had anticipated. We found that by sharing the reasoning and choices that influenced our subject/object interests not only did we start to develop a sense of what formed each others approach to thing but we also started to glimpse more of the desires and hopes of the people sharing the information. We also had a great deal of fun imagining what the projected shadows looked like and what the objects could turn into.

Process the object in a different way
Take pictures of the objects and of ourselves
Make drawings of the objects and ourselves
Make prints and print on acetates (different scales)

Reinforce learning by changing the perception of the object and elaborate on what is learnt from these different perspectives by discussing the object in relation to other peoples’ subjects. The chance connections or pronounced differences also encourage us to think about un-thought about aspects of the object/subject.

We thoroughly enjoyed imaging the connections between the objects and painted shapes on the wall. Often the image itself made us veer from the original subject to think along a tangent. It could be the most obscure reference that connected objects, for example Milly often pretended to have tea with her dolls and tea plays an important social role in Miss Marple stories; this in itself was an extension from Parag’s interest in mystery stories.
The classic car that was selected to represent a recent driving experience that Bryan’s dad had in Leicester was typical of the era in which Miss Marple stories were set and also may have featured in a Poirot story, another of Agatha Christie’s characters. We found that the spaces between subjects became filled with endless possibilities for creating an imaginary context where all these subjects and interest co-existed. It also served to reinforce the similarities that we shared from our own life experiences.

Create an environment with shapes gels, paint, tape etc to put the characters into.
Respond to the acetates with pens, we can draw live on acetates as they are projected and react to shadows. Also we can take turns to stand in the projections and take pictures all the time so that we can see ourselves in the images and talk about the different ways in which we can interact with our imaginary environments.

This activity encourages us to extend our imagination by reacting and responding to the ideas and materials then filling in details of an imagined space and environment. We can then step into that imagined space and interact with it encouraging changes and development with the materials that are provided. The environment that we imagine is shaped by our approach and the limitations of the materials.

Milly hugging her doll shadow

Milly hugging her doll shadow

This was perhaps the most playful part of the workshop as we had a great deal of fun projecting images of ourselves into the growing painted material and also witnessing the changes that were made to the way we looked by tracing live on the acetates. There were several moments that had a magical effect on Milly when we cast shadows onto the space that she was standing in. We then encouraged Milly to interact with these shadows, she was overjoyed to see herself holding giant scissors and also hugging her doll that all of a sudden was the same size as her. I should also point out that everyone else was moved by the success of that sequence of pictures (see film).

Photograph and move any extra material to grid and square
Materials to prepare in lunch:
Screen print materials
Tracing paper

Part 2
1:30 to 3:00
Cut out the drawings, shadows, shapes, everyone picks one picture.
Animate the shapes walking up the paper over the top, Milly takes the pictures with the camera. Milly also decides on the character movements.
Locate and arrange shapes on other side of the room.

Animation process creates a suspension of belief and also allows one to think about characters in a narrative format. It extends the use of imagination within the context of time. Recreate a second arrangement of characters to exhibit a change of scenario that is affected by the narrative.

We successfully created an enjoyable and fun sequence using the shapes and cut outs that we each selected but this is not where the biggest surprise came from. While selecting and discussing our choice of shape that we would like to animate it quickly became apparent that we were seeing the work completely differently. It was incredibly enjoyable being able to see through another person’s eyes as they explained what they had seen in the shape and what they imagined that this shape could be or would do as a character. We engaged with this so thoroughly that we did not settle on a narrative for the animation instead we carried on enjoying the different imagined scenarios that the discussion threw up.

Use tracing paper to outline the shapes of the characters or parts of the characters or shapes that interact with the characters. We will use two existing colours and one mixed colour for screen printing and we will cut tracing paper shapes as positives and negatives so that we can screen print onto the cut out animation shapes.
Photograph and move all periphery items to grid and paper square.

The final reprocessing cements the imagined characters in their scenario and at the same time changes what is being seen into an image. Elements of the original object/subject will appear abstracted and we will see a pictorial representation of what has been learnt about the subject/object.

Screen printed cut-out

Screen printed cut-out

The screen printing process proved to be something of a challenge. Not only was the procedure as messy as ever but we had to solve many problems in working with the limited print materials while still achieving a desired image. At this point it became clear how much we had gained from the earlier processes because of the effortless way in which everyone committed themselves to working out the printing dilemmas. It was also evident that we had all expanded the range of possibilities that we considered when thinking about working with limited materials. Most enjoyable was seeing the contentment on all our faces as we worked together to achieve a thoroughly successful printing session. Milly most definitely relished the chance to mix her own colour to print and carry on her experimental creation of colours that she did so much of in the morning.

 Record responses on laptop

The drawing at the end

The drawing at the end


Workshop Leaders:

Measure by Measure

Milly Kotecha and Parag Kotecha

Saturday 2nd August

Play with Line (3-7yrs) – 30th July 2008

I’ve worked at the Gallery leading workshops for about 6 years now, and I’m definitely and ‘old hand’ at this. Even so, I must admit to having been a little apprehensive about this one. Mainly because I had never before led a workshop that had no desired end product, wasn’t planning to work towards one, or even teaching a skill, even in my own practise as an artist and educator. In actuality though, this one was of the most exciting and enjoyable workshops I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. The children were really engaged and loving every second of exploring the pleasure of drawing and creating lines and shapes and random things without the pressure of drawing anything in particular, or of attempting to be representational.

Line on shape

Line on shape

We started off with a short drawing to loosen everyone up – drawing whatever you wanted on a board that was being wiggled an jiggled by your parent! A couple of the kids were less than pleased with them for doing this, concerned that they were ‘messing up’ their drawing, but when we switched sides and let them ‘mess up’ their parents drawing it was a whole different story! This helped them to get the idea that we were not trying to draw anything – only to explore what a drawn line could be, and have fun with it! We then moved on to working on the walls, the floor, the ceiling of the education space with full-on gusto. We took a drawn marker pen line for a walk, a jog, a run, a jump, had a breather, a pant, a rest then had a game of football, frisbee, tennis with another line – all across the space! This was so cool, the children (and obviously the parents too) were really enjoying themselves and coming up with some really interesting shapes and lines. The next part of the workshop was drawing with light. Both kids and adults took turns in chasing a light (torch) led by the other, with their pen/paint/chalk. Mainly they were all nice to each other – but there were a few lights in places no-one could reach, and a few children running light rings around exhausted looking pen-chasing parents! You could hear the glee for miles . . . Next we gave up the pens and moved on to wool. Soon the space was criss-crossed with woven lines taped down every foot or so, and then we placed stickers at intersecting points. By this point the whole space looked amazing, and we sat back to have a look. I then gave out tape and asked them all to find bits of the space that appealed to them because of a nice placement of line or colour or just because they liked it. Using their hands in a square as a view-finder we soon had lovely framed bits of the space – drawing attention to what they judged to be the best bits. I urge you to go and see for yourself what they thought were the best bits, and the space as a whole, because it is truly fantastic. Be quick though, as more is being added at the next workshop!

Line or Plan?

Line or Plan?

Everyone enjoyed themselves so much some didn’t want to leave, and everyone fully realised the creativity and the wonderfullness of what they had created, just by playing with a line.

Daisy – Workshop Leader

“I’ve never been to such a creative workshop before, we’ve really really enjoyed ourselves – thankyou!” – Parent at workshop

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