Day 3 was a Sunday so we relaxed in the morning then headed to the Union Street Party, where last year I took part in my first public participation art project “Painter Pitcher” (organised by Amy Whittingham), with my brother and my dad. That was a lot of fun and I was looking forward to seeing what was happening at the party this year. The flyer for the Weekender said there would be a print workshop from Double Elephant and I really wanted to give that a try as I have seen their workshop leaflets at PCA in the past and they look really interesting.
We arrived as a band was setting up on the main stage and a woman from the We Are Plymouth booth asked if we wanted to take part in their photo project to celebrate Plymouth’s people and communities. Me and my brother were given a small whiteboard to write “We are Plymouth” on (I added a doodle of my own!) and a badge each to wear for our photo. Unfortunately we didn’t take a photo of our own because we thought they would be posted online but their Instagram account is empty!
We carried on walking around and had fun messing about on a bouncy castle and a rodeo bull. Next to the bouncy castle were two men playing music with a guitar and drums and they were encouraging members of the public to join in. We watched a woman singing an Elvis song and a few young boys taking turns on the mic and drums, and there was a really great atmosphere around this part of the Party. Right next door was Sloggett and Son, a shop that sells vintage furniture and they were hosting an installation of instant photos and sound recordings called “What we talk about when we talk about love” by Marcella Finazzi. We got into line to participate and Marcella gave us a ticket and instructions on what to do. We wrote about what love means to us on slips of paper and she took our photo for her album. Being around all the vintage furniture while listening to to the conversations through the headphones made me feel like I was inside someone’s house and part of their family. When we left we were given another slip of paper each with a ‘love thought’ printed on it. Mine read “You look good today” and my brother’s read “I believe in you”.
We heard music and saw people dancing and went to watch for a few minutes then went into the Camper Obscura. This is a camper van that has been converted into a Camera Obscura that you can sit inside! We all went in and the man running the van closed the door to shut out the light. We sat opposite each other on benches and he gave us a big whiteboard to hold flat on our laps. He opened a hole in the roof with mirrors inside and the reflections of outside the van came in and were shown on the whiteboard. We had to raise and lower it to get the picture in focus. I loved this, it was a great experiment and I want to build my own camera obscura at home to better understand how they work. After we came out the man took a polaroid of us to put on the door alongside pictures of all the other people who had visited that day. I have my own Instant 1000 Polaroid Land Camera which I used last year for my Max Caulfield cosplay, I don’t know if it works but I am going to save up and get some film (there is a shop on the Barbican called So Perfect Images that sells it) to try out because I really like the way they work and the photos they make, and I’ve been really inspired by the different artists using instant film throughout the Weekender.
We looked up and down Union Street again and ate some delicious apples which we hand-turned into long spirals with a little machine, but we couldn’t find the Double Elephant workshop. We were a little disappointed about that but otherwise we did have a really good time at this years Union Street Party, and I really liked all the different ways there were to get involved in the artworks happening there, however it was time to move on to our next destination.
We drove over to Devonport Guildhall for the Chrysalis exhibition of work by the artists from Flameworks. All of the artists are making different things, from illustrations to metalwork and jewellery. One of my favourite displays was “Teapotty” by Peter Heywood which was a selection of teapots made from different materials, including tea leaves, cubes of beech wood, lead, cocktail sticks, and chocolate. The teapot made of cubes of wood made me think of 3D pixel art brought to life and there was something quite humorous about the collection. I also liked “Resurrection” by Ati Charlesworth, a mixed media drawing of an old tree trunk with fresh branches and leaves growing from it. The trunk was drawn with ink dots but Ati used watercolour and gold paint on the leaves and the new wood to bring it to life. Another drawing I liked was “Shadow of a Previous Life” by Louise Rabey. This was quite a sad picture based on a memory Louise had of a beloved pet who passed away when she was young. There were lots more pieces of art on display here, my brother and sister’s favourite was “Salix II” by Piers Edsall which is a big steel musical sculpture with rods that the two of them made a lot of noise with!
Before we left the Guildhall we went downstairs to the cafe and I had a piece of treacle tart that had a layer of jam in it, and looked around Lynsey Johnstone’s exhibition “Floral Abundance”. Lynsey works with acrylic paints, metallic paints, and glitter to make vibrant and colourful paintings which are full of life.
Our next stop was Devonport Live at 56 George Street but unfortunately it was closed, so we carried on to the Royal William Yard and the “Being Human” exhibition. As soon as we entered we saw the “Participate” installation by Alain Pezard. This was a collection of porcelain figurines which were quite unsettling, and some of them had been broken and stuck back together in creepy ways. This has given me some ideas for things I would like to (un)make and it reminded me of Sid’s experiments from Toy Story! I wish we had known about this piece beforehand because Alain had invited members of the public to bring in their own figurine and I would have liked to do that.
I found a lot of this exhibition quite alien to me because I haven’t experienced much fine art before. Every piece of artwork was different to the other works on display, and there was photography, video, installations, collections, oil paintings, even performance works. I enjoyed another of Alain Pezard’s installations called “Water of the World”, which is a range of bottles of water collected and sent to him over 32 years by participants from all over the world.
Another one of my favourites was “Devon Words” by Caitlin Hennessy. Caitlin is interested in old words that are disappearing from our language as it evolves. Caitlin talked to us about her research and the meanings of the words she had chosen were sometimes quite funny but sometimes there wasn’t a better word for what was being described, for example we found out that a ‘griggle’ is a small apple left on it’s tree! I liked this piece so much I bought a small book of words hand-printed (and signed for me!) by Caitlin.
Before we left RWY we popped into Martin Bush’s gallery of oil paintings. Martin creates huge bright and warmly coloured abstract art inspired by jazz music and landscapes, and influenced by Matisse and Jackson Pollock. Martin’s paintings are really beautiful and full of energy and we all really enjoyed our visit to his gallery.
And that was the end of my Art Weekender! I got to see such a wide variety of art but there were still exhibitions I couldn’t fit in, in particular I was sad that I didn’t make it to the Plymouth Arts Centre or the Karst Gallery. I’m really looking forward to seeing more exhibitions by local artists at the next Plymouth Art Weekender in 2017 and especially finding out what opportunities there are for members of the public and young artists like me to experience being part of the creation of different artworks for the festival.