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Workshop "Ceramic Frankenstein"

I was lucky to be asked to take part in this three day workshop run by the Art Lab - Contemporary Print Studio at UCLan by Tracy Hill in conjunction with visiting Dutch artists Erik Kok and Rudi Bastiaans from the A.K.I. Institute of the Arts in Enschede. Erik Kok, teaching ceramics, and Rudi Bastions, teaching print, have run multi-disciplinary practical workshop sessions at various European art institutions. At their relative small and intimate art institution they encourage a multi-disciplinary art educations which can be lost at larger institutions such as ours. As part of the European Erasmus exchange program they have now brought this way of working to us. Thus, there were fifteen students from Illustration, Games Design, Fine Art, Ceramics and Surface/Textile Design.

Our little group consisted of six people from Fine Arts (2), Games Design, Surface Design/Textiles and Ceramics (1 and 2nd joining on day 2). We really had a lot of fun in the morning session of the first day. We started tentatively drawing outlines of each others hands onto a large piece of paper but soon progressed to doing close up detailed drawings of body parts. Strangely there seems a real reluctance to undress one's feet to the public but we were saved by some continental foot exposure by the Italian in our group. We also took loads of photos both lying on the large table in the print studio but also in the photo studio.

After lunch, armed with good images joined the other two groups in the computer room to assemble our Frankenstein images from our body parts. Unfortunately, our group didn't work very well on this and this delayed the whole process. However, by end of the day two of us managed to come up with a good image. Josh really enjoyed putting together the composite face, which combined facial elements of us five people into one scary one:

Composite of our five faces into one

Now we just needed this to be approved by the rest of the group the following morning before printing the final image onto acetates:

Final Frankenstein digital image

At this stage we were joined by the sixth member of our group who was really complimentary and commented on the cohesive whole of our image. Next, we taped all the A4 sheets of acetate in preparation of cutting them into print screen sized parts. At this stage we also did some minor alterations by drawing and scratching into the acetates and sticking some of our original drawings on acetate sheets.

Assembled acetates

Erik and Rudi managed to fit our Frankenstein onto just three printing screens.

Erik Kok and Rudi Bastions planning out screens to use
Printing large screens needs many hands

The schedule was very tight on this project and we were the last group and we weren't sure whether we'd get our's done in time. Luckily it went all rather smoothly (a great hurrah and thank you for the print elves who made all this possible by coating, exposing, washing etc in the background) and Erik and Rudi with the help of Tracy, Magda and David got our figure printed in time for them to go into the kilns to be fired over the coming day.

Opening kiln two days later
Kiln packed ready for firing

We fired three kilns and all of them were a success, which wasn't a given as the white shop-bought tiles weren't of the best of quality.

Luckily we remembered to label all tiles on the back to help us when reassembling them.

We were then asked to collect our tiles and choose a location that would add to the overall display of our figure and lay them out somewhere in the university. Chloe and I decided on the most cold and draughty place possible: next to the church where the icy wind gets funnelled through. Brrrrrr!

Final display of our Ceramic Frankenstein

We placed our tiles below the poppy wreath commemorating the fallen soldiers and onto of an existing grave stone but left the word "Sacred" visible. This is open to all sort of interpretations, which I will not go into here.

All the participating students, staff and visiting artists went around each display and commented on them. We all come up with very different Frankensteins but they were all equally good. Hopefully Tracy will find the space to have them permanently displayed within the university.

Other Frankenstein
Erik, Tracy and Rudi in disabled parking bay

This group chose the disabled parking bay for their 'disabled' one-legged Frankenstein.

If I understood this correctly, this Frankenstein really came together when assembling the acetates and not prior while assembling on the computer.

Last activity was to print each group image onto an individual tile. We will each have one as a memento to remember this workshop by. Brilliant!

All in all, this was a great experience and opportunity to work with students from other departments in to uni - this should be much more encouraged - get to know some of the staff working in other departments and also learn from other experienced and established artists. Doing all this within a workshop environment is so much better than just listening to visiting lectures. That said, the final presentation of Erik and Rudi's work was great to see and Rudi's technique of painting onto decals may be something worth trying out in the future.

The three days spent in this workshop was a lot of hard work - especially for the people who organised and run all this - but well worth it. Thank you so much!


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