No Its not Rita Robin but hoppy the bunny, checking out Rita's new holiday home.
During the pandemic I have managed to somehow keep active one way or the other, and every so often I get calls from churches, art centres and people who need something made. So I was delighted when I received an email from Jonny at the OSOS art centre. https://www.osoarts.org.uk/
Here is the call out from Jonny:
" We've now developed the story and route for our treasure hunt, so are in a good position to start chatting about how the artworks (and your garden installation) can integrate. The overarching narrative is that the fairy queen has just moved into the OSO, and leads the children on a tour around Barnes Common to meet some of her magical friends, learning about nature on the way. The treasure hunt passes through various checkpoints, each with their own associated character, and ends up back at the OSO, where we will be setting up a 'fairy village' in our outdoor gazebo. The children can make their own furniture for the village at home, and then hang it in the gazebo to contribute to the fairies' home.
The idea with the artwork is that each checkpoint has a piece by a local artist that enhances the imaginative world of the story and strengthens the children's connections between the characters and the physical environment that they are exploring. The treasure map is a physical map collected from the OSO, but the checkpoints and clues themselves are managed digitally - sort of like an audio guide controlled by the parents, but with images that can be viewed on their devices as well.
The artwork for each checkpoint would be viewed digitally via this online guide system, but then be hung physically in a larger print (or weather-proofed canvas) in the gazebo (the fairies' home), so when the children finish the treasure hunt they can see all the artworks in the flesh.
I was wondering if you'd be up for creating one or two of the pieces for the checkpoints? They don't by any means have to be fully fledged works - small sketches are perfect. Though you could take it as far as you wanted to.
Since so much of your artwork is textural/sculptural, there is one checkpoint in particular that would be well suited. By the willow tree on Beverley Brook, Rita the Robin makes the nest for her holiday home. It's next to the fallen willow tree (which perhaps they used to use). Could be a good opportunity for some multi-material nest building work." Jonny
The original idea I had was to make a large nest from various things, then Jonny reminded me it had to be hung in the cafe Gazebo, so I needed to think how it would hang and also easy to move about. Out comes the old wire coat hangers, that have been hanging around doing nothing. Step one make a frame work to work with, that would be strong enough to be handled.
Fortunately my garden has abundance of ivy that I could use. While it had stopped snowing and a little bit of sunshine, it was the right time to get out and get on with it.
I managed to shape the coat hangers (I used two, one for the centre, which is also the hanging piece, and one to support the ivy once I began weaving it.)
Using the wire structure it helps to hold the ivy, especially at the early stages, then just keep weaving to the shape you want it to become.
Since I had a good strong base structure, it made it easy to be quite firm when weaving the ivy, and also to work without any mishaps.
Once I had finished with it, though took some photographs of the rabbit inside the nest to see what it would look like. Having used a coat hanger as the centre core, it made it very easy to carry and also to hang on the trees at the Brook before dropping it off at the OSO art centre.
Do check out their site if you are interested in the many activities that the centre puts on, even through the pandemic, they have been amazing, creating online entertainment, as well as brining artists together through other online projects. I have had so much fun making Rita Robins holiday nest. You can have a go yourself, its a great winter decoration or a garden installation, I did put some coloured lights inside, just to add that magical quality.
Spike Mclarrity is a duration based conceptual performance artist.