Family take over weekend at Humber Street Gallery was an amazing experience to be a part of. It totally transformed the space; children and families flooded the gallery, engaging them with the artworks on display and connecting them with their own creativity and the city. Arranged by Artlink Hull, the series of workshops on offer included creating to a map of the city in a workshop by Jon Keen, building vehicle of the future in a workshop by Sarah Johnson, designing their own roadsign by Lilly Williams, and building and adding to the cardboard city in a workshop by Helen Steele. I ran a basic photography workshop on both days, designed to teach simple concepts at different levels, composition, focus, colour and light.
Based on using smartphone cameras, I set up using brightly coloured objects and backgrounds, on the premise that in a sense, it doesn’t really matter what you’re taking pictures of, when practising form and composition. So we had some fun, plastic food items, and a variety of backgrounds, mimicking the aesthetic of Martin Parr’s Food Culture series. I asked the children to arrange the items to make a basic ‘still life’, asking them to think about what colours and shapes they liked, and what colours went well together. They could add to their objects with different glittery items, catching light in different ways, and different backgrounds. We then used smartphone cameras to try different ways of taking photographs. I showed the children how taking a photograph from directly above, made the photograph look different than taking it from an angle, or from the side. I asked them to think about what aspect they wanted to emphasise, and asked them which image they liked and why – introducing them to some critical analysis! I loved watching their creativity. Some children heaped all the items on the background, and made a busy, colourful scene, and some were more minimal, using simple colours and shapes to make patterns. I also found, for the most part, that as well as being naturally creative, children have a very definite idea of what they like, which is to be encouraged.
Once they had set up and photographed their pieces, we were then able to print the images straight away from the smartphones using a Polaroid zip printer – which everyone present was very impressed by. The children then had a tiny work of art that they could take away and be proud of, and could look at and compare to the other works of art on display in the gallery and talk about similarities and differences. The children and families were all very proud of their work, and rightly so, and it was great to see so many families getting involved, helping each other, and comparing their work. Around 80 people of all ages, from toddlers to teenagers to adults took part in the photography workshops, and for some participants, it encouraged them to take more photographs and put new skills to the test. Humber Street Gallery Family Take Over was a fun packed informative weekend, an event to make the City of Culture proud.
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