Blogs from staff and friends of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Friday, 12 April 2013
The Creative Process: Share
The final element of the creative process in the Creative Learning Centre is 'share'. This is where visitors, and the artist, leave lasting impressions in the space. constantly reflecting on, and contributing to, the process of Tiffany's work, other visitors' work, and the physical space.
Tiffany Singh opens up the process of making her work, her philosophies and beliefs about her practice, and her art. She does this through a silent film showing her collecting materials, melting wax and creating her artworks. She shares objects that inspire her and reflect her work on shelves throughout the room. These objects range from books about spirituality, jars full of pigment and spices, and raw beeswax and honeycomb. There is text opening up and sharing ideas about the symbolic use of colour in her work, the symbols and nature that feature heavily in her practice. A nostalgic collection of View-Masters share images of past installations that are reflected in her work on display, Dusted with the Spices of a Million Flowers.
For our visitors, there are shelves where they can leave their drawings or their sculptures for other people to appreciate in response to the activities. It was important to have a space where the visitor’s voice could be valued; therefore, the shelves where they can put their works are not segregated but are a part of the room. They are the first and last thing you see in the space, they are mixed with the objects Tiffany has left, they are not relegated to an isolated corner.
When children in particular ask me, ‘What do I have to do to get my picture up on the shelf?’ it's so fun to see them burst with excitement when you tell them that they can put whatever they like up there and choose where it goes. Sometimes the enthusiasm to leave their masterpiece fades and they awkwardly hover by it for a moment while a proud parent takes a photograph; they just cannot bear to leave it! Still, the fact that they had the choice to do what they wanted is powerful. The shelves are heavy with the pipe cleaner creatures and the colourful compositions visitors have created.
We have a response wall where visitors share their ideas about the focus colour in the room. The initial focus colour of the room was yellow, and the responses to what yellow reminded people of ranged from funny, touching, and thoughtful. There are the popular options like the sun, flowers, bees, paper, happiness, and summer. Then there are the ones like 'my Grandma's teeth', 'a colour I should wear more', and 'my mum's hugs', which are more personal.
When the room shifted into orange, the responses began to vary. Orange reminded people of Dutch football, Holland, oranges, lollies, traffic cones and high visibility vests, or that the word does not rhyme with anything.
Currently the prompt is ‘Red reminds me of…' What is interesting is of the three colours explored so far, red has prompted the most emotive responses. The ideas are abstract and intangible, less object or nature focused. The board is filled with words like: love, passion, blood, anger, life, fear, fury, equality and revenge.
Red seems to encompass polarities of emotions for people. People linger at this space for long periods of time, reading other people's ideas, contributing their own, and reflecting on the connections between the responses. It is the part of the room where I have seen the most opportunity for bridging to manifest.
The elements where people can share in the room have resulted in a space that is changing and evolving with each person who participates here. The Creative Learning Centre therefore feels constantly refreshed and revised, as Tiffany’s artwork and ideas are in conversation with the artwork and ideas of our visitors.
Sharing creates a balance between the artist's voice, the visitors' voices, and the Gallery's voice. It is through the avenues where people can share, that the Creative Learning Centre exhibition space differs from a traditional exhibition and gallery context.