Pop Up Garden Project
Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery invited me to join an arts project inspired by the many food festivals we have in and around Shrewsbury. The aim was to engage visitors in the museum and an external group who might not normally work with the service.
My starting point was to look at the extensive Coaplort china held in the museum collection. It's pretty over the top and exhuberant floral china with some fabulous colour combinations! Fay Bailey, the Museum's Education Manager, wanted me to work in the museum courtyard with visiting familes as a drop-in offering along with Lovelyland gardening. They work with groups to engage people with growing their own food - and they are lovely with it!
Fay also wanted the mosaic making to go outside the museum and work with a hard to reach group. Through another initiative a connection was made with Shropshire Mind. A meeting with them highlighted some good fortune as they were about to instigate arts and crafts afternoon each week, and I could join in as an offering one week.
I decided to create one mosaic but over two separate boards so that I could transport them more easily and I felt contributed to the framed images. I prepared the boards with stain and several coats of yacht varnish to protect the wood as they were destined to be hung in the courtyard of the museum offee shop.
One sunny (thank goodness) Saturday mroning I pitched up to set out my table of mosaic tiles. The only direction given was that I had drawn some very loose lines on the boards to show approximately where the children could work and strategically rested something across the sky area as I had decided to do that part with the adults at Mind.
I am always amazed (not sure why as I've worked with children and families alot) but children have a capacity to just go 'OK then' when you say make some flower patterns with these little tiles. It was a brilliant morning of watching children selecting their coloured tiles and creating beautiful floral shapes without much help from me.
The second part of the project saw the boards going to the Shropshire Mind centre in Shrewsbury. A small group of willing participants really embraced the 'let's design a sky' using the rich turquoise and gold scheme inspired by the Coalport china collection. It was a couple of blissfully quiet and relaxing mosaic-making and we discussed all sorts of subjects from creative spaces they had (or wished for at home) to some of the challenges they have each day with their mental wellbeing. I had to work hard at the listening and not too much talking. The amount of mosaic they created in a couple of hours was impressive as they took ownership of that part of the design.
My task was to fill in all the small spaces and grout the final boards. My reward was seeing the boards on permanent display in the museum courtyard and I hope that the people who helped me will come back and enjoy their part in the project too.