Cameron Morgan Selected for Unlimited Commission

Our very own Cameron Morgan has been selected as one of the 9 artists out of over 150 applicants to be commissioned by Unlimited.  His project will be ‘TV Classics Part 1’, which will take the form of an exhibition and a series of public artworks that celebrate learning disability culture. Unlimited have provided over £500,000 to the 9 selected artists to create their work. 

Cameron is fascinated by popular culture, in particular a love of 70s and 80s television, films and music - an interest shared by people with learning disabilities the world over. Working with iconic television imagery from the 1930s onwards, Cameron will spend six months in Project Ability’s studio creating ten paintings that honour the past eight decades of television history.

Cameron was delighted to be one of the very few selected:

Being an artist is what I have always wanted. It’s a different ball game (this project) and I am really looking forward to it. There will be a lot of shenanigans with Jason and a lot of hard work – looking forward to getting into it and shaking a leg.”

Congratulations, Cameron, and we look forward to seeing the new work take shape!

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Walking Group - Week 6: Coates Observatory

As there was a partial eclipse of the sun which could be seen from Glasgow last week, it seemed appropriate to visit the Coates Observatory in Paisley for a walking group outing.

The Observatory is accessed via Paisley Museum and Art Gallery so the group had a chance to have a look at the current exhibition before going through to the Observatory building.

There were materials on hand to make solar viewers which could be taken away and put to use a couple of days later to safely view the phenomenon.

The group were then taken upstairs and into the planetarium to see a short film about the possibilities of life on other planets and then further up into the tower to see the main telescopes.

The building has many quirky architectural features and an interesting collection of scientific apparatus so there was plenty to look at and photograph.

Coates Observatory is open daily (except Monday) and there are evening viewing nights throughout the winter months. For full information see http://www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/webcontent/home/services/leisure+and+culture/arts+and+museums/els-jcp-coatsobservatory

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Meet the Volunteers - Samantha Penrice

Our first Meet the Volunteer this year focuses on the brilliant Samantha Penrice, who has been a great addition to our Create team.

"Project Ability is definitely an experience worthwhile. I myself started out doing the Reconnect programme. The Reconnect programme for me was great, I learned new techniques and skills. I have always been very in to art, from day one. Art has been a saving grace for me, it's the one thing that's remained consistent in my life. I myself have Aspergers, so art for me is a way to relax, be myself and feel comfortable in my own abilities.

Recently I have started volunteering for Project Ability on the Create Programme, working with young children. It has been incredible so far, I feel I can show and teach the children the skills, techniques and designs I have learned in life myself easily. Each day with these children is an experience, not only are you teaching these children, but they are also teaching you in return.  Every child I feel in a way I can relate, knowing myself how life can be a struggle in certain aspects, and how simply coming to the create classes makes them feel great. Being able to pass on my own knowledge about textiles, jewellery design, interior design, mixed media etc, makes you feel better in yourself, just knowing that you have shown and taught a skill new to that child, it is priceless. I hope to continue on learning and teaching more and more, to one day become a qualified teacher myself. I hope from my experience, you will want to start your own, with Project Ability."

Thank you Samantha! 

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Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 4

As I await the other two long canvases to be made and primed, I work on the middle panel and think about what I will draw up on the next two canvases. I've decided to place the new canvases one on each side of the middle one and when they arrive the whole triptych begins to take place.

Monumental, some have described it as! It certainly is that. This is the biggest painting I have done to date and I'm really enjoying the way artists, visitors, tutors and personal support assistants are all having things to say about the paintings as I paint them. This input helps me to give the piece direction in the way I place the characters as well as the way I paint it. Keeping the paint free, loose and accessible is what I want to achieve.

Also people are watching the work emerge on all my social media posts and are coming in and telling me so! This is a little strange as even though I know it's up on Facebook and Twitter it's like another world and another audience that is unseen.

By the end of week 4, I have drawn up all the canvases and blocked in with colour all of the main figures, giving the triptych an overall sense of the event.

Canvas one and two, left and middle pieces describe the artists making work, the absorption they have towards their work and images of portrait sittings happening in the background. Canvas three on the right describes the conversations, opening speeches, the hanging of the exhibitions and the interactions the tutors and volunteers had with the artists and supported studios.

I decided that in my painting of the summit all of the figures illustrated are all people who I had an interaction with or who were portrayed during my portrait sittings. I decided to do it this way as I needed to feel a connection with each and every portrait I paint. I think this gives the collective image a sense of emotion and connectivity.

In week 5, my last week, I concentrate on the detail of the faces bringing each portrait to life which expression and likeness.

Keep watching!

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On the Road: Kilmarnock

Last week, our On The Road workshops brought us to Kilmarnock, where tutor Alison Mitchell and artist Steven Reilly delivered a workshop in the One Stop Shop.

"Steven Reilly and I drove down to Kilmarnock on Thursday evening.  We were heading for The One Stop Shop which is run by the National Autistic Society.  There were 7 willing bag embellishers there, aged from 14-24.

We had brought some tote bags and a big bunch of assorted fabrics to apply to the bags. I'd brought a load of books and printouts of magnificent and interesting subjects but none of these were used. Each person came up with an idea for their project and lots of great bags were made!

Thanks to everyone for the nice welcome,  lots of great chat: walkie talkies, local farms, gemstones and embarrassing moments!"

If you would like for us to come to your club or group and deliver a free workshop, please get in touch at info@project-ability.co.uk or 0141 552 2822.

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All the talks from The Summit are now online

If you weren't able to attend our International Summit for Learning Disability Artists and their Support Studios earlier this month, you're in luck: all the talks from the 11 participating organisations and their artists are now online on our Youtube Channel. Have a browse, and listen to some very inspiring words! 

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Artwork of the Week - ‘Lost Fox’ by Antero Laine

This week we are very pleased to bring you 'Lost Fox', acrylic on canvas, by one of our invited Summit artists, Antero Laine from Kaarisilta, Finland.

'Lost Fox' and other works by Kaarisilta artists are currently exhibited in our gallery as part of 'It is Now', continuing until Saturday 4 April. 

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Walking Group - Week 5: House for an Art Lover

Cold, wet and windy… one or two can be bearable but all three combined do not a good walk make.

On arriving in Bellahouston the group had a short walk into the park and decided to take cover from the rather ferocious elements in the Palace of Art.

After a short look around there the group decided to brave the great outdoors again and quickly walked the short distance to the House for an Art Lover.

Fortunately a guided tour of the building had been planned in advance so after meeting James, the very knowledgeable tour guide, our group had a walk around the building interior and listened to tales of the history and construction of the Mackintosh design before braving the weather again to get back to the city centre.

For more photos, please check our Facebook profile. 

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On the Road workshops: One Stop Shop in Perth

Our On the Road programme brought us to the One Stop Shop in Perth, where tutor Meredith Crone and artist Cameron Morgan delivered two workshops on bookmaking and textile.

"PA Artiste Extraordinaire Cameron Morgan and myself were recently invited to deliver a couple of workshops to a group from the One Stop Shop in Perth. It is an organisation that provides support in the area for around 120 adults with autism.

         

         

The techniques the group were keen to explore were bookmaking in an afternoon session and textiles in the evening. Their premises in Perth is an interesting building that sits like a big wedge between two converging roads – walls not far apart in places allowing plenty of natural light to flood in. Traditional and historic on the outside, but with a modern interior.  Reception and pool table downstairs, art and activities room on the second floor and IT facilities and office space on the third.

When we arrived we were warmly greeted by a group of service users, volunteers and staff. It was evident that some of the group had invested a considerable amount of time practising visual art and there were examples of very accomplished pieces of artwork on display throughout the building. The techniques that Cameron and I introduced, however,  were new to the group and they seemed to really enjoy transferring their skills to a new format. For example, people seemed familiar with the idea of collage but were enjoying applying this to fabric with iron on adhesives, and responding and being inspired by a rich and varied assortment of exotically patterned offcuts. The group decorated canvas shoulder bags with some brilliant designs.

It was interesting talking with people in the group and learning about their woodland project. I hope we can work together again in the near future. The group expressed an interest in exploring other media including feltmaking."

If you would like us to deliver a free workshop to your club or group, please get in touch at info@project-ability.co.uk or 0141 552 2822.

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Glasgow Photography Club raises money for Project Ability

On Saturday 28th February, the Glasgow Photography Club held a one-off event in SWG3 showcasing works made by their 10 members in the last year. The evening included an exhibition, music by bands and DJs and a secret auction where people could bid on their favourite photographs.

Organisers James Chang and Paul Sayer very generously decided to donate the money raised via the auction and the donations to Project Ability. In donations alone, the Glasgow Photography Club raised just over £100! So imagine our delight when James and Paul arrived in our workshops on Saturday with a cheque for £509!

Young Create artists Lucy and Ross were happy to officially accept the cheque (in front of Lucy’s painting), which will be used towards buying more art materials for our workshops.

Many, many thanks from all of us!

Glasgow Photography Club is for anyone interested in improving their photography skills and wanting to expand their creative & technical knowledge. Everyone is welcome to join, whether you are a professional, amateur or beginner using digital or film cameras, looking to further your skills in photography or find your creative nature.

If you would like to organise an event and raise much needed funds for our charity, please get in touch at info@project-ability.co.uk or 0141 552 2822.

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Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 3

How time flies when you’re having fun! I can't believe it's week three of my residency already.

The Summit has finished and left me with a wealth of images I want to paint, conversations to draw from and an overall feeling of an artistic philosophy that connects us over international waters. This is an exciting time for international artists with learning disabilities and their shared studios, and I see a quiet revolution going on in learning disability arts practice and the recognition of this learning disability art and culture in the mainstream.

I wanted to illustrate the summit, its artists, speakers, visitors, volunteers, tutors and international studios in a triptych panoramic painting. An ambitious feat you may think! But I also wanted to push the boundaries of my own practice and create a painting on a large scale. An opportunity not to be missed whilst in such a cathedral like space. So I set to the task in hand, to review my photos of the Summit, to start building an illustrated narrative to draw upon for my first panoramic canvas.

I set the photos on the floor in front of the canvas and with my pocky stick, very much like Matisse did in his later years when he became disabled and he used a stick to move around his cut-out collages, I poked the photos I wanted to use and my assistant Lorraine stuck them to the canvas in the position. A sense of what I wanted to paint was emerging. I set up the canvas ready to paint in full view for all to see the progress as it happens in the Aspire studio.

I want to emerge myself into the culture and philosophy of the studio so that I can learn about how other learning disabled artists approach their work without the use of the usual spoken word dialogue. I also want to learn through listening to conversations between tutors and artists that also seem to be seamless and sensitive to the artists’ needs, without influence of subject and contents. This I want to portray in my triptych too, in a subliminal level.

In just two and a half days my painting has begun to take shape quickly as I draw the figures on with paint and brush and think about my approach to the methods of how I apply the paint to reflect and illustrate the artists and the Summit. I want to keep a looseness about it, keeping the paint fresh and loose.

In this first canvas I place Project Ability’s internationally acclaimed artist Cameron at the centre of the piece to represent the host of the Summit. Whilst painting, I'm thinking about why and how we all came together and discovered common goals and artistic philosophies that bridge international waters, language and cultural barriers and how we can build on this to create a solid network that could feed and support our work in developing exhibitions and recognition of learning disability art in the mainstream. In week 4 I will be developing canvas 2 and 3 whilst continuing to paint canvas 1 in the Aspire studio, so I hope you can pop in to tell me how it's looking, in person or visit my Facebook and blog https://summitportrayed.wordpress.com/

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Artwork of the Week - ‘Tea Party’ by Consuelo Servan & Jonathan McKinstry

This week, we are very pleased to bring you 'Tea Party', screenprint, pencil and ink on canvas by ReSearch collaborators Consuelo Servan and Jonathan McKinstry. 

Consuelo and Jonathan embarked on a shared studio approach during their ReSearch project. Jonathan placed his comic drawings of characters and scenarios directly onto Consuelo's photographic prints of the Aspire studio, which appear as tonal studies showing variations of changing light throughout the day. 

Consuelo comments on their shared working practice,
"We experimented with batik technique a lot. First, it was just me. I wanted to change background colour and add some sizing, adding wax around frame. There was a point when Jonathan showed some interest about it and started experimenting, of course in a completely different way. Again, the mix worked."

Don't miss the other works in this series, showing as part of 'It is Now' in Trongate 103's foyer space until 4 April. 

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Thank you for making The Summit such a success

We had high expectations for our International Summit for Learning Disability Artists and their Support Studios, and we weren’t disappointed!

For three days, our Trongate 103 studios were transformed into a fantastic platform where artists with learning disabilities from all around the world shared their practice, talked about the future, made work and met new friends! We couldn’t have hoped for a better mix of people and culture, we all shared a sense of community, with art at its centre. It was wonderful to see artists who had never left their country before come halfway around the world to showcase their work and participate in this unique event.

Our aim was for the Summit to be a relaxed and fun event, about and for the artists, with ideas being shared, work being made and with the possibility for everybody involved to discuss with each other and learn from each other. We will take a bit of time to analyse in depth the feedback and summarise these amazing three days, but in the mean time we wanted to say a big and heartfelt thank you to everybody who made this event possible! Thanks to all the artists who made the trip to Glasgow, and to all the supported studios staff, it was a pleasure to have you share your experience with us: Arts Project Australia, Action Space, Kaarisilta, Celf O Gwmpas,  In-Definite Arts, Nina Haggerty Center, KCAT, Inuti, Venture Arts, Atelier 5. Thank you to Tanya Raabe-Webber for being part of the event through her evolving portrait gallery, capturing moments and expressions from the participants.

Thanks also to our absolutely amazing volunteers, who manned the café area (Morag, Stuart and Peter) and the gallery (Mary-Anne), as well as our brilliant documentation team, who spent three days filming, photographing and uploading live-updates on our social network platforms: Phoebe, Jen, Jemima, Katie and Simon.

At last, thanks to the Project Ability staff and to our funders Creative Scotland, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation for making this event a reality.

“It was good to do it in a working place, and not a conference venue”
“The language of Art is international and universal”
“Amazing chance to talk and help plan our development plan over the next 3 years. Thank you PA team”
“The emphasis was on the artists”


The Summit is now over, but the exhibition ‘It is now’ will continue until Saturday 4th April. Make sure you come see it!

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Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 2

The Summit Portrayed! Where do I start? What a fantastic three days I've had, drawing and painting as many artists and studio managers from around the world who came to the summit.

I thought to myself, how should I start? So I began with capturing people and artists as they were making important decisions on how and where to hang their work in their individual exhibition spaces. There was a lot of movement and conversations going on, in and around the Project Ability gallery and in the exhibition spaces in the foyer of Trongate 103. As each studios artwork was revealed there were gasps of enjoyment, celebration and sharing of each other’s appreciation of their artworks. I wanted to capture in drawing the spontaneity of people's reactions and physicality in quick groups. To do this I thought my iPad would be the best medium as I moved around the gallery in my chair with my iPad on my lap. I wasn't looking for detail of individuals’ faces but I was looking for a sense of great interaction, movement and a looseness to depict identity. So I worked with an app called Sketchbook Pro. In it I used a thin pencil to draw fast line drawings. This gave me fast fluid drawings.

Then I noticed some of the artists who were waiting to hang their work were looking at me looking at them as I was drawing. Immediately I responded to this silent artistic engagement and started drawing in pen on small watercolour paper that I also had in my mobile art bag, head and shoulder portraits. Creating portraits that were of a more intimate nature. There was a real sense of artistry, engagement and exchange that needed no words, just a look and an expression between us meant we were connected as artists. The portrait standing pose was born!

By this time there was a real buzz going on, people were beginning to have all sorts of exchanges and this was a great time to introduce myself as the summit portrait Artist and to invite artists and studio managers to sit for their portrait during the three days.

The opening of the International Summit. I do love to capture a good opening speech! This was a great opening speech, perfect opportunity to draw a portrait of Elisabeth - Director of Project Ability – and Councillor Archie Graham in context with the audience of onlookers, delegates and artists who were all eager to get going in the art studios.

Very quickly, my evolving portrait began to become an installation of the faces and bodies of the #SummitPortrayed. iPad drawings were printed out and hung alongside some small intimate pen portraits. The iPad drawings were looked at with a sense of intrigue and wonderment about how they didn't look like computer generated images. People responded to these drawings with amazement at how quick I drew them and how I had captured the scene in such a short period of about 30 seconds per drawing! I think I surprised myself too on this one!

With the speeches done and the Summit officially open, my next job was to get into the thick of it and start making bigger portraits of the happenings and cultural and artistic exchanges that were beginning to happen in the studios. Armed with my easel, art trolley and artist’s assistant Celine, I positioned myself to portray the artists and studios talking about their artistry, their art and their cultural differences and indeed their cultural similarities. As it was quite dark because of the projection presentations, I decided to use black ink and an ink/eye dropper to portray Jonathan McKinstry and Consuelo Servan as they talked about their collaboration. A proven material and technique that gives me fast, spontaneous drawings that capture movement and expression.

But the darkness in the presentation area was just a bit too dark and I couldn't quite see enough of the speakers features so I decided to move myself, my easel and art trolley into the studio where the light streamed in directly on to the artists as they began to make their own work. Perfect subject matter for me to portray. So I began to paint!

Again there were so many tiny moments, treasures being revealed in artistic exchanges that bridged cultural, language and artistic barriers that I wanted to portray. Faces, expressions, concentrations, absorbed in creating artworks was all around me. I painted and drew portraits of many moments and interactions in the art studio.

Time to setup a portrait painting booth. I wanted to have a cultural and artistic exchange with the people who run the studios so I began by inviting the managers and art directors of the studios to sit for me whilst I painted their portrait. Each sitter was asked to tell me about their art studio/organisation and to tell me a little bit about themselves. As they began to tell me their stories I painted their portrait using a very loose style of painting with thin colours, overlapping the couloirs and building up tone and shade. I then applied ink with an eye dropper to give the finished piece a sense of expression. Each portrait would take about 20 minutes.

As I built up a series of portraits of different people the word was getting around and I eventually had a waiting list of sitters! People would come and watch and we would have many conversations about my approach to the portrait, the paint technique and ink drawing technique which was great.

So in response to this I thought it would be great if I painted a portrait of the artists painting portraits of me resulting in a true artistic and cultural exchange. This proved very popular too. I began ‘portraying you portraying me’ with Cameron Morgan. He created a portrait of me as I was putting my paints out ready to portray him. My portrait of him captures him doing his initial drawing for his portrait of me. We painted our portraits of each other and at the end we had an artistic critique of each other's work which was great fun. We shared points about each other’s paint techniques and Cameron describes as liking the "looseness" of my painting and I loved the way he captures my physicality with no compromise and the fact that both our paintings used loose paint and ink drawing.

These exchanges during portrait sittings continued with great skill and enthusiasm and I think were the highlight of my portrait making summit journey. There were lots of laughter and the art spoke larger than life.

My next blog will talk about portraying the summit on canvas. A panoramic triptych depicting the narrative and exchanges of the summit.

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The Aspire Book is Launched!

It has been a wonderful week at Project Ability, with The Summit in full flow, and now the long anticipated launch of our Aspire Publication.

The gallery was full of excited artists waiting to get their hands of a copy.

Our exhibition for our international summit, It is Now, was looking fantastic, and everyone enjoyed the huge range of work on display.

Photographer Alicia Bruce asked many of the artists represented in the book to sign their picture, and all were more than willing!

A great night all round!

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We’re on Instagram!

We now have our very own Instagram account: @projectability

We will be documenting the International Summit for Learning Disability Artists and their Support Studios over the next three days on all our social networking platforms, including our new Instagram! Make sure you follow us so you don't miss a thing! 

#TheSummit

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ReConnect workshop at the Botanic Gardens

Last week the ReConnect group went to the Botanic Gardens, doing a drawing and painting workshop with artists Fionn and Josie.

"Yesterday I joined the ReConnect crowd for a drawing workshop in the Botanics. What a great (warm!) place to spend an afternoon drawing, painting and generally experimenting and messing around with materials. fabric, squirting and skooshing paints. It was such a lovely relaxing, quiet space to spend an afternoon in the hothouse being creative." - Esme

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Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 1

I've just finished my first week's residency in the Project Ability Studios and what an exciting productive week it's been.

I found myself fitting in quite quickly and began to position myself with my easel and art trolly to begin portraying the Aspire artists as they create their own artwork. Each day last week I began by introducing myself as 'Tanya the portrait artist' and spoke to the artists about what artwork and techniques they were doing. Then I took a few moment to choose a subject to portray. When choosing a particular artist to portray I was looking for a great sense  of identity and artistry and character. I love to portray a sense of self, drive and passion that is presence using a sensitivity of line and colour that describes the artists skin tones.

I'm also looking to capture a sense of the Project Ability studio and all who sail in her. So in my studio hub, as I'm now calling it, I'm also playing with composition on a continuous drawing wall to convey the chitter chatter that goes on in the studios where artists are sharing with on another ideas and techniques. It's a very vibrant artistically lead environment and I want to capture that too.

I'm getting lots of visitors to my studio hub wanting to see who's been portrayed next, which is great feed back for me too. So do feel free to drop to have a look and a chat about the portraits. I will be creating an evolving portrait wall during the Summit which will be situated just outside the Project Ability Gallery... can't wait to get started!

As I've been playing with different painting and drawing mediums myself I found that my acrylic paints are soaking into the lovely Italian watercolour paper if I want to paint with thick paint. This produces a dullness to the painting which I was not happy with so to fix this I primed the paper with Rabit glue which then seals the paper against absorbing the paint. This has allowed the paint to sit on the surface and so hey presto I now have velocity and texture to my portraits allowing the brightness of the colours to shine. A perfect result!

So now I'm ready and armed to paint and draw. I'm getting excited about the Summit and wondering how many portraits I will get to create over the next four days! I shall be wandering about during the Summit with easel, brushes and paints in hand ready to portray!

Don't forget to follow my painting on Facebook, Twitter #summitPortrayed and my blog 
https://summitportrayed.wordpress.com/

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