First Fortnight 2018: Inside Out

Selfie Expression wall

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. It aims to make the First Fortnight of each year synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma.

On 11th January 2018, Creative Spark, in association with Inspire Wellbeing, hosted a free event as part of this project with the theme of bringing the artist inside out, inviting everyone to bring their art and creativity out of the home or studio and into the community.

AAEX members were actively involved in preparing the event and provided a good number of the contributions by various speakers, artists, photographers, songwriters and poets, which made the event a success. In particular:

  • Selfie Expression: complete your self-portrait and post a selfie with it (Heather Cassidy, Rachel Burke)
  • Treasure Hunt: mingle and identify contributors by random facts (Rachel Burke)
  • Meet the Artists: Presentations about personal arts practice and mental health (Bernhard Gaul, Barry Finnegan, Úna Curley)
  • Zentangle: A mindful drawing activity (Jean Marshall)
  • Presentation of work (Michael Stafford, Úna Curley)
  • Music (Barry Finnegan)
  • Collective Poetry Activity (Úna Curley)
  • Perpetual Drawing + 2 Landscapes: Collaborative drawing project (Bernhard Gaul)

Our Poem
Of Happiness, Intrigue, and Power Animals

If I was a cat, I would roam a city
painting a picture
beach, sky balloons colourful free
Swallow, agile flyer
hardly seen alone
Loving.
Local social history
Old abandoned House
Who lived there?
When?
Why?
In the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa
a fluffy koala bear cute and cuddly but
with claws, roar!
A spider, So I could scare people just by
sitting on the wall
Jumping from a height
Wise as an Owl
Swimming in a blue sea.
Loyal Dog, Lion, skate-boarding
Hawk,
flying through the air in the sunshine
A seat, drinks with friends
A tree, Giraffe, because they are tall unlike
Teeny tiny me.
Stones, celebrating
Leopard, The mind.
Gazelle and Owl  a Gazowl
Slim & Lithe & Fit & Beautiful & Wise
& doesn’t need much sleep.
Fossils of Dinosaur Poop!
History
Rock from sand.
Making the song ‘Imagine’ come true
John Lennon
Turings “Colossus” computer
Spending time with the love of my life
An old vinyl player
(the ones with the big funnels)
Koala, I would be a tiger
furry and run like the wind.
A Whale, swimming in the sea
Donkey, Odd shaped pumpkin
A wooden vessel, hold tea,
its warm and intermittent touch to the lips.
Hands held tightly around
Falling from the sky (Skydiving)
Sloth
Running up a mountain
In Rain and Sunshine
My favourite weather.
Swimming in a warm sea
under the blue sky.
Deer, strong and confident
Walking the hills
An Alsatian dog
Attractive, clever, loyal, fierce and taking no nonsense
The clouds in the sky
Cat, Mouse,
A giraffe with lovely long legs
Creating stuff
Copper Wire
Making love
Other people
A spider with small worlds unexplored
A cup of steaming hot tea
to stare into
Drinking with my wife in a vineyard in the South of France
Klimt The kiss painting
Writing poetry to my favourite music
Xylophone
to be with family
at ease and accepted or
to be in world without technology.
Walking amidst a forest
A dolphin cheerful, friendly
Elephant
Relaxing and listening to music
and reading a comic
A Dog
Intelligent and well behaved – generally
Painting
Leopard
Laptop, internet
Stones, Antique urns,
A Dog
Coins, Rubix Cube, Dice
All my family together,
I need a superpower to help my family get on together again
I am Happy
When I am being Creative
Gliding through the sky

A Creative Collaboration by

Janice Pollock Mary Clarke Úna Curley
Rosie Moore Shane Millar Sandra Butterly
Robert Sozi Vincent Gilmore Dympna Mahoney
Rachel Burke Bernhard Gaul Michael Stafford
Heather Cassidy Nella Weatherup Dee Brannigan
Geraldine Martin Emma McCabe Joe Sweeny
RJ Patterson Sarah Daly David Davies
Natalie Smith Jean Marshall Tracy Chan
Billy Smallwood

Postcard Project

Postcard by Heather Cassidy

We decided to use a postcard art project as first attempt to step out of our studio setting and find public engagement.

The idea is simple: AAEX members produce postcards using various ideas and approaches, which are pre-stamped and handed to members of the public with the request to send them back to us. People are encouraged to draw or write on the cards or otherwise alter them, if they wish to.

Once returned, the exchange is documented and the cards presented in a form to be decided on. The cards are numbered, so we know which ones didn’t come back, leaving a gap.

Cards were produced between January and April 2017.

First public hand out of cards: Drogheda Arts Festival, RollUp, Roll,up – Saturday, 29th April at Scotch Hall, Drogheda alongside the Creative Spark screen printing stall.

Second installment in the canteen of the DkIT, Dundalk, Tuesday 9th May. Other cards were handed out to acquaintances and interested.

Montage and presentation of returned cards on Saturday, 20th May at Creative Spark, 2-5pm in the context of National Drawing Day.

Stamps generously sponsored by irishstamps.ie

Photos from the installation of returned postcards at Creative Spark. All cards are numbered, gaps identifying cards that weren’t returned. Almost 200 people were involved in producing the cards on display. Overall we engaged with over 300 people.
Creating the post cards. Lino cuts by Michael Stafford, Rachel Burke, Heather Cassidy, Bernhard Gaul and Úna Curely
Getting ready for Drogheda Arts Festival
Impressions from Drogheda Arts Festival and DkIT, Dundalk. Original cards by Thomas Brezina, Rachel Burke, Heather Cassidy, Úna Curely, Bernhard Gaul, Susan Farrelly, Anna Marie Savage and Michael Stafford

Hands-on Gatherings

Some selected photos from hands-on gatherings. Usually somebody volunteers to prepare a concept or technique for the evening.

Inspirations

http://socialatwork.6revs.com/2015/01/06/collaborative-art-imbuing-art-with-meaning-from-sharing

http://www.corkcommunityartlink.com

http://turn-project.com/en/program/712

http://candychang.com/work/career-path

http://www.chicagopublicartgroup.org

http://illegalart.org/projects

http://www.psfk.com/2013/06/train-art-gallery.html

http://www.mtn-world.com/blog/2015/06/27/swab-stairs-2015/

http://www.martinjanda.at/en/news/exhibitions/188/roman-ondak/

http://www.bkmag.com/2016/05/04/see-saw-7-soon/

 

The Story So Far…

At the beginning of September 2016 more than a dozen local art practitioners and/or interested followed an open call to meet at Creative Spark to discuss possibilities of creating some sort of local platform encouraging Art as Exchange, both between local practitioners and with the wider public. Some more, who couldn’t come, declared their interest, some others joined later. Some also left, after moving elsewhere.

A key motive behind this, was the desire to establish a culture emphasizing art as communication or communication through art, which was found lacking locally. It should be an alternative or addition to art as “the production of things, to be shown and/or sold”, often in isolation. It should suggest and facilitate the production and exchange of art as something in which many can have a stake, skilled or unskilled, understanding themselves as artists or not.

Anything from just providing a regular opportunity for practitioners or interested to simply meet up and socialise, exchange experiences and ideas, to try and work together and if possible find ways of engaging the public, would have been seen as a success.

As it turned out, we quite quickly established a format of bi-weekly “gatherings”, many of which have been hands-on sessions (communal drawing, screen printing, lino-printing, sketches for installation proposals etc.), but we also worked out a Manifesto, documented what we did and now set up a web site in the wake of approaching first public engagement in the form of a postcard art project.

We try to maintain an open format, allowing members to fluctuate and join in as they see fit, while at the same time maintaining an ongoing process, communicating via mailing lists and WhatsApp.

Contact us, if you want to join in.