Archive for February, 2018

Create a Kite at Abu Dhabi Science Festival November 2017

Last year I was at a festival where there was a kite making workshop on the beach and some of the kites were ending up in the sea. I wondered if I could make a kite that would fly well yet be biodegradable. It took months of testing different materials but by the end of the summer I had done it. 

I was delighted when I was asked by Abu Dhabi Science Festival if I would bring my kite making workshop to the festival in November. I was lucky to have a great team of students to help me and Hannah Ayre work with school groups and families to make thousands of kites over the festival. The best part of making a kite is of course flying it, and we had great fun with the school groups flying the kites in the square next to our workshop.

The kites make a great workshop as they encourage children to be dexterous, a skill that our screen loving children often lack.

 

They are also great as there is so much science to talk about we talked about how kites fly and the effect of plastic pollution on our oceans and how we, as a society need to think of way to reduce plastic waste.

 

 

Hannah and I didn’t get much time off during the festival but the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened while we were there and we couldn’t resist taking a look. It was breath taking and I thought their exhibitions were very thoughtful.

Illuminating Geometry at Enlighten, Bury

Enlighten is a Light and Music festival in Bury just north of Manchester. I was very happy to work with Bury Archives to make a installation for their foyer working with schools from the local area based on my Illuminating Geometry project.

At the beginning of October I went down to Bury to check out the venue. Bury Museum, Library, Art Gallery, Sculpture Centre and Archives all inhabit one amazing Victorian Building. I was taken down in to the basement to see the foyer that we would use for the installation. It was a great space as it received little natural light and the lights could be controlled. Adam, one of the archivists took me through a labyrinth of corridors to the back rooms to show me a bundle of maps that had been donated. The archives already had copies of these maps so they wondered if I could use them as part of this project. The maps covered the area form Bury towards the centre of Manchester going back in time to the 1700’s. I spent the evening looking for interesting features on the map and cutting out circles for the school groups to use the next day.

I worked with three schools, Our Lady of Lourdes in Bury, Parkview Primary in Prestwich and Webster Primary school in Central Manchester. Each school had chosen a symbol to represent them and each child also designed their own symbol to represent themselves. In this way each lantern came to represent the past, present and future of Bury.

At each school we made our lanterns, thought a little bit about how we use symbols, learned quite a bit about electric circuits using Little Bits kits and discussed the creative process and how programming works.

A couple of weeks later I was back in Bury for the install. I measured out a pentagon on the floor of the Archives and placed studio poles at the points. I then hung the lanterns around the pentagon. I connected some of the light to two colour sesnors so that visitors could change the colour of the lights.

The best part of these projects is when the children who have made the lanterns at school come along and show their parents and grandparents their work.  We also ran workshops for visitors to make lanterns during the festival and some of the school kids had their whole families making lanterns to take home. After the festival, I boxed up all the lanterns and sent them back to school along with batteries and LEDs so that the children could enjoy their lanterns in the class room or at home.

 

As well as the light festival, which was free to visitors, with wonderful works of art inside and outside, there was a music programme too. I was lucky enough to catch some of the bands when I had finished at the Archives. Mount Wolf and Science of the Lamps are now regular features of the studio play list.