Paper Rebellion

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This week I’m looking forward to a couple of days in historic Worcester, running workshops at The Commandery as part of my Paper Rebellion project. Paper Rebellion is an ACE funded year-long project (thanks to fundraiser Manda Graham) which aims to to creatively engage young people and visitors with the aims of the English Civil War. Using collage and book making, I am showing groups how to make their own pamphlets, and we are making five collaborative artworks.

The group collage pieces are based on the idea of mandalas. A mandala can be a symbol, diagram or map which represents a microcosm of the whole. In various traditions and practices they are used for focusing the attention and as a form of guidance. Creating a mandala is said to promote a sense of balance and understanding. They usually are circular in form and contain some kind of symmetry and balance. The lovely team at the Commandery made these fabulous easels to display the artworks while they evolve:

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To make both the collaborative artworks and pamphlets, we are using photocopied material from the era, combined with today’s newspapers. The site once housed a printing press, and it was during the Civil War era that printed media became widely available. Political groups like the Levellers designed and printed their own pamphlets and manifestos, so in times of control and oppression it was still possible for marginalised groups to have a voice.

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The artworks each have a theme: peace, freedom, conflict, belief and power. Through these themes, and the powerful medium of collage I hope to help people connect their learning about the Civil War to their own lives today, and create something relevant to them. For example, here’s a pamphlet I’ve been making on the theme of power:

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The Commandery has a colourful history, and as well as being a significant site in the civil war it was also a Medieval hospital for travellers, and at one time a college for the blind. As both an artist and yoga teacher, I am keen to draw out ideas about health and healing. Belief is also an interesting theme, at the time of the war people were very religious and believed in things like witchcraft.

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Well, who doesn’t believe in a little bit of magic? As well as symbols like oak leaves and swords I am weaving in a few symbols of my own, which are artistically and spiritually meaningful to me. Butterflies and moths are amongst my favourite images, for their ephemeral beauty and the sense of freedom I receive from them. In life (as in war) fragility is so very often intimately entwined with strength. Look out for more Paper Rebellion updates this year, and details of public events.

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Book making workshops

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I’m posting this with my tail between my legs as it’s been a whole year since anything went up on this blog. Oh well. This summer I set up some book making workshops to teach the lovely people of Shropshire some basic techniques to make their own books. In the Loosely Bound workshop, we covered simple stitched binding, and the extremely addictive Japanese stab binding. These workshops were called Loosely Bound, as although book binding is traditionally a very neat and tidy craft, I myself am not a fastidious maker of things. I enjoy the improvised, unplanned and haphazard, and am a fan of raggedy edges. Saying that, the practice of book binding slows me down in the quest to make a lovely object, and I have made some quite tidy items I’m rather proud of.

Here are some photos from the workshops, which took place at Shrewsbury’s English Bridge Studios:

During the workshop I asked the (slightly philosophical) question “what is a book?”. Our answers included: private space, a shared world, collect, read, object a place of safety, a hiding place, adventure, someone’s child, tactile, something that opens, and imagination. For all these reasons and more, books have always been very special to me, and I enjoyed sharing my love of them in these workshops. To organise a workshop or private book making lesson get in touch 🙂

Found Poetry & Text Art Workshops

It’s been a great summer, and I’ve loved developing my Found Poetry & Text Art workshops. Working with lovely groups in Shrewsbury and Hay-on-Wye has been an absolute joy, and I’ll be repeating these classes on a regular basis.

In the class we get creative with words, making poems, stories and our own artwork out of book pages and magazines. Using drawing and collage, I demonstrate simple techniques to help you read between the lines and work with text on a new level. Here are some photos from previous sessions:

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The next workshop is on Friday 9th September in Shrewsbury, full details and booking information is on eventbrite. I hope to see you there or at a future workshop! Keep an eye on the events page for new dates.

What previous students have said:

“ I found pleasure in bringing pictures to old forgotten words “

“ Combining the words with images was very relaxing, the workshop opened my mind to new ideas and flow”

“Fun and fascinating! Emily is a very enabling tutor”

“Pleasantly destructive! Cutting up old books is rather thrilling”

“Time just flew, I really enjoyed Emily’s delivery and her fabulous ideas for starting points”

“I really enjoyed that, Im going to take my work home and frame it!” 

“Lots of fun and a kind of magic, I could do this all day!”