This was the third drawing workshop held at the Lancaster West estate.
Children are using their imagination to help me work up designs for a mural. This will be installed in the Grenfell tower as a 3x2m mural made up of wall tiles. The tower is currently undergoing renovation and the art work will probably be located in a new community space.
Although not being run exclusively for children, adults seem very reluctant to shed their inhibitions and participate. So it's the children who are having all the fun and we have a clearly defined pattern of imagery taking shape: urban structures, especially the iconic appearance of a high rise tower; self-representation whether this is drawing oneself, or family, or referencing aspects of cultural identity. And given the age range of participants, it's not surprising that animals of an exotic persuasion, are materialising on the estate. Thankfully they are all friendly and well-behaved.
In the drawing completed at the last session we had the following:
Grenfell Tower residents had organised a Fun Day at the Lancaster West estate. It was a pleasure to be invited along and to fit art into the barbecue, face painting, sports and pony rides. This took place on the landscaped space connecting the estate with a newly built academy and leisure centre in North Kensington.
At the Fun Day, a teenager looked at a blank sheet of paper.
"What do we draw?"
"Absolutely anything you like."
I was not here to teach or instruct. Merely to facilitate creativity. An act of improvisation.
If help was needed, we did have on display a large scale drawing made on a previous workshop at the estate. This was a fantastical metropolis (children's input) with recognisable architecture from the estate (my guiding hand). At the event several children went across to copy elements of this visionary landscape. However most had the desire to draw or write what came naturally to them. A girl brought over a leaf and started to sketch this. Animals came to the fore. The cultural identity of the children also became a point of self-reflection.
One child exhibited a rare doodling quality which is often at the heart of my working mode. She started to just draw without thinking. Playing with abstraction and the feel of colours and only then deciding what she was going to do. Did she end up with a building or a flower? Or just a mark on the paper?
Back in the studio, I was able to colour in and unify all the diverse elements created by the children.
These drawing workshops on the estate are helping me to forge ideas about a mural wall tile. This will be made with residents over the coming months and sited in the new community space in the tower. I want this mural to be based on a story told to me by residents. It might be based on real life or conjured from the imagination or a combination of the two. It seems important to have a graphical representation of the Grenfell tower block. This is home.
The text that follows is based on the ideas and images created by children at the Fun Day. I am particularly haunted by a giraffe standing beside a tower block. I can see this working as a visual design. Hopefully someone will tell me the story of this giraffe and why it came to stand beside Grenfell Tower?
Picture in words
Live, laugh, love
I love you England and Morocco.
Poo and pee.
Three, four, five, six, seven.
Ground floor, 2nd floor.
The movements of a lift.
An elephant, rhinoceros and giraffe
Came to Grenfell tower
For the day.
Lionel Messi is the best.
Live, laugh, love