Abstract Forms with Rebecca Appleby
As preparations for Light Night continue, ceramicist Rebecca Appleby hosted a trio of workshops in response to the Gott Bequest. Natural forms, landscapes and vibrant colours are a theme throughout Rebecca’s practice, which link in perfectly with the drawings and prints in the Gott Bequest books. The three workshops will be focussing on drawing, painting and sculpture, areas in which Rebecca is also experienced in.
Rebecca produced a beautiful range of plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables as the centrepiece for the first workshop, within this were many weird and wonderful pieces which many of us had never seen before, including Breadfruit, Taro and Donut Peaches. This promised to be an exciting session as the group gathered to admire their source materials. To introduce the group to the session they started off by just doing a quick five minute sketch in their normal style, selecting a small section of the piece to focus on. Everyone was really quiet whilst they settled into this, so for the next tasks Rebecca asked the group to try drawing with their wrong hand, drawing without looking at the page, and continuous line drawings. This helped the group work in a much more liberal way, and lifted any restrictions they may subconsciously be pressing upon themselves in their drawings. Comparisons were made between all the drawings they’d made, and many were highly amused by their unexpected linear explorations. The opportunity to work in this way helped unleash a lot of excitement for drawing which may usually be repressed by the desire to create something realistic and beautiful.
After many exploratory drawings using these alternative methods, the group gathered their drawings and discussed what challenges they had faced, what they hadn’t enjoyed, and most importantly what they had enjoyed! Working with different materials to what they may usually use had also invited new opportunities, such as using marker pens and finishing off with charcoal, or even using wax crayons and oil pastels over pencil. To ensure the group had a range of inspirations, Rebecca encouraged them to keep changing seats and changing perspective.
To conclude, the group worked together on two very large sheets of paper to create collective drawings using whichever was their favourite medium and technique. Working on this scale encouraged them to work whilst standing up, enabling their whole bodies to contribute to the drawings, which helped push their confidence in the marks they were making. Working so quickly through style and technique produced such a diverse range of outcomes from each person, and it was wonderful to see how so many different outcomes can come from the same person. The drawings from this workshop showed exactly how broad the possibilities of drawing can be when working together and with such dynamic source materials.
The following day Rebecca hosted a painting workshop, which further explored the notion of mark making and observational studies. By working quickly on some acrylic studies this helped to improve the confidence of those who may not usually work in this way, and prepared the group for their final workshop which focussed on sculpture.
On Wednesday afternoon the main space here at Inkwell was bursting full of materials in preparation for the sculpture workshop. Rebecca provided a range of cardboard, nice papers, tape, elastic bands, cable ties and newsprint for the group to experiment with. The exercise focussed on the shape, form, surface and texture of the objects which had previously been used as inspiration for the drawing and painting workshops. The aim was to try and achieve similar shapes and textures to the qualities seen in the natural forms, by using a range of materials and making techniques. The group, full of inspiration and energy got on really well with the task, and began tearing, assembling, bending and cutting the materials to try and create sculptural pieces which expressed these natural textures and shapes. The whole group had a go at creating something, although some admitted this didn’t really suit their style of working but they were happy to have tried something new and adopted this way of thinking about the formal elements of the materials. The outcomes from this final workshop were wonderful, with cardboard sculptures of all shapes and sizes; one even involved a water feature to create weight and sound effects.
Comments from these workshops were positive, including:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and I feel I have learnt loads and loads!”
“I would love more workshops like this!”