7 Things We Learnt at Village Green Schools’ Day

Metal’s Village Green arts and music event in Chalkwell Park is always preceded by a day dedicated to school kids – Village Green: Next Generation. And, this year – #VG17 – SEVEN collective was asked to take part as artist stall-holders.

Seeing as Metal have been kindly hosting our creative journal workshops for a wee while, we thought sharing some of our idea-generating techniques with local school kids was the least we could do. Eeeek!

This is what we learned:

1. Be prepared

Not just for scouts or evil lions (see the Lion King for details) getting to the park for 7:45am demanded organisational and timing skills the A-Team would be proud of.

2. Don’t get stall envy

Everyone’s Village Green stall looked glitzier than ours. Branding. Banners. Colourful whatnots. You name it, we didn’t really have it. Just us and our arty stuff. Would we be overlooked or dismissed out of hand? (See point 4).

3. Locate the coffee

See point 1. The early start plus fear of the unknown (aka children) required at least one caffeine hit. Thus, locating the Village Green coffee stand was an essential part of the set-up.

4. Proximity to the loos can be advantageous 

And, not for the reason you think. But because teachers and kids using the facilities checked us out. On their way to the loos. As they waited by the loos. On their way back from the loos. Or while lost and looking for the loos.

5. Keep calm & carry on (ideally with glitter)

As wave after wave of primary school kids and their teachers came to check out our art tables – think: mandala collage, collective doodling, and swing tag-making – it was all we could do to just muck in and make the most of it.

More gems you say? Certainly. Lost your prized sunglasses? We’ll help you find them. Want pictures of cars for your mandala collage? Coming up.

6. Kids do come out with some words of wisdom

Don’t know where to start with your art? “I just scribble ’til I think of something,” one boy told us, while getting stuck into our free range doodle roll.

And, sure enough, after a scribble or two he warmed up and started doodling like no business.

7. Our top tip: change shape

Something we found went down a treat with our mini artists was mandala collaging. Turns out eschewing the ubiquitous rectangle for a circle can help overcome placement anxiety – there’s no right or wrong way.

All in all

Village Green: Next Generation had a lot to teach us. Surprising. Rewarding. A little hot. And, at times, a bit overwhelming. But, hey, there’s nothing like learning by doing, right?!

And, we all slept very well afterwards… Thanks to Metal for the opportunity.

Keep up with SEVEN

Remember to check out our latest art work and follow our creative adventures over on Instagram.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to keep in the SEVEN loop.

So This Happened at Leigh Art Trail…

SEVEN Show Leigh Art Trail 2017“Like looking through a window into beautiful inner landscapes…” That was just one of the reactions SEVEN’s first Leigh Art Trail show inspired.

So, five months after the SEVEN collective formed, at table seven of The Railway Hotel, we had arrived. We were number three (Planet Leasing) in the 20th Leigh Art Trail.

SEVEN’s first show

To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect. Just how Leigh Art Trailers would react to sketchbooks as artwork was uncharted territory – plus, we were the first collective to show on the Trail.

Our journey, as some may know, started at Heidi Wigmore’s Creative Journal courses held at Chalkwell Park’s Metal. SEVEN took that premise – using tried and tested artistic techniques (or processes) to kick start creative exploration – and plumbed its potential depths.

Fortunately Heidi attended our late night showing and told us she was “…blown away…” by what we’d achieved. Phew!

From the sea to Planet Leasing

Our LAT odyssey started with the sea – it is Leigh-on-Sea after all. This loose theme, a connective thread if you will, ebbed and flowed throughout the sketchbooks.

From there, we’d come together to share in the processes and explore them individually (get the techniques we used here). The results? Often unexpected. Always wildly different.

Once finished the journals were presented on a special table – trestle legs supplied by Metal – and held in place with striped ribbon, ready for public perusing. People were invited to turn and touch the pages. We encouraged questions. Kids could have a go in our community sketchbook.

What Leigh Art Trailers said

Many were drawn to a particular book or technique. Others were hurriedly box-ticking their way round the Trail. And a few left befuddled.

Other visitors became immersed in the depth and breadth the books had to offer. One or two said they felt as if they were looking through our personal thoughts. At least one person reckoned someone’s shell sketches were a bit Freudian…

Some even took the time to leave a comment in our book or on social media:

“This is absolutely fantastic – I love the connection between each of the books, yet there is so much diversity within them, as well.” – Cat

“Like looking through a window into beautiful inner landscapes. Totally joyful.” – Jen & Xian

“Fantastic, inspiring show.” – Heidi Wigmore

Thank you…

We thoroughly enjoyed our #LAT2017 experience. Thank you to everyone who came to see our sketchbooks, we loved having the opportunity to share our work with you.

But some special thanks must go to:

  • The dedicated and enthusiastic Leigh Art Trail organisers (all volunteers)
  • Planet Leasing for being so welcoming (and making us tea and staying late)
  • The lovely people at Metal who let us use their space (and their trestles)
  • The inspiring and supportive Heidi Wigmore
  • And, Amanda’s husband, Andrew, for his carpentry skills

Keep up with SEVEN

Remember to check out our latest art work and follow our creative adventures over on Instagram.

You can also sign up to our mailing list to keep in the SEVEN loop. We’re not sure what’s happening next, but we’ll let you know when we do!

7 Ways to Kickstart Your Creativity – the methods SEVEN artists love + worksheets!

SEVEN Processes - Leigh Art Trail

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page and wondered where creative types get their ideas from then you’re not alone – the SEVEN collective have too!

What artists like Picasso do

When renowned photographer Brassaï asked Picasso whether his ideas came to him “by chance or by design,”  he said:

To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing…

The really good ideas, he said, came once he got started.

Easy for him to say, right? Just ‘begin’! Blah!

But there are ways and means to get beginning. Techniques used by creatives – from the Surrealists to David Bowie – to bypass doubt. Simple exercises which propel the blank, blocked or bewildered mind into creative exploration.

And, we’re sharing some of SEVEN’s fave methods, or processes, below. (Want to grab our downloadable worksheets right now!? Simply scroll to the end of the post.)

What inspired the SEVEN Collective

Now, we can’t claim to have got the idea of meeting up, using tried and tested artistic techniques as creative launchpads, and sharing the results in a supportive environment.

Nope, that was down to artist Heidi Wigmore who held a series of Creative Journal workshops at the wonderful Metal Art School in Chalkwell Park, near Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

There, we found the permission to ‘just have a go’ without judgement or criticism.

For some of us our journals, or sketchbooks, were an adjunct to an already established art practice. For others the workshops marked a return to self expression left unexplored since art college or even school. But it worked for all of us.

So much so, some felt compelled to continue – et voila, the SEVEN collective was born!

The techniques we use to ignite ideas

To make our first collaborative project – exhibiting at Leigh Art Trail 2017 – easy peasy each SEVEN artist chose their favourite ‘process’ from the many we had tried and tested with Heidi.

We all took a shine to a particular method for our own very personal reasons:

  • Love drawing? – how about one minute sketches? Or ‘blind’ drawing?!
  • Think you can’t draw for toffee? – perhaps tracing and layering random images or using stencils could be for you?
  • Want to start somewhere else entirely? – try a word soup (aka Dada poetry) or make threads of thought. Or maybe use a good old map to get the juices flowing.

Use a process to get you started

Our fave creative processes are listed here. Each SEVEN collective member created a worksheet which details how it works and why they love it.

Simply download the ones which catch your eye and have a go. We recommend you try all of them. You never know what’ll wind up capturing your imagination – like Amanda’s swimmers, but that’s another story…

Now it’s your turn to explore:

PS We’d love to see what you create. If you feel inclined to, please share the results with us using #sevenartistsuk on Instagram or Twitter.

PPS These worksheets are for you to download for your personal use and are not meant for public reproduction.

SEVEN at Leigh Art Trail 2017 – the facts, figures + the private view

SEVEN at Leigh Art Trail 2017After months in the making SEVEN’s creative journals are full to bursting with ideas and ready to go on display at Leigh Art Trail 2017!

But what we really need now are some lovely folk – friends, art lovers, curious-types, young and old – to come and peruse our colour-filled, collage-covered creations and get inspired.

Yes, we mean you.

WHERE: Planet Leasing, 91-93 Leigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 1JL

WHEN: Saturday 10th June – Saturday 17th June 2017

OPEN: Saturday 10am-4pm, Monday to Friday 9am-6pm (Sunday closed)

PRIVATE VIEW: Want to meet some of the SEVEN crew and indulge in a tipple and nibble or two? Then we’d love to have your company.

Come along on:

  • Thursday 15th June
  • 6-8pm

Everybody’s welcome!

PS – Check out LeighArtTrail.com for more info on over 80 artists, exhibiting in 52 venues across Leigh, over 8 art-packed days. Including our very own Amanda Jackson and Kerry Doyland – they’re so talented they’re in it twice!

Future Park Talk @MetalSouthend

This evening Metal in Southend are hosting an event called Future Park and SEVEN artists have been invited to present a 3 minute wonder talk.

Come along to find out about creative opportunities and hear what local artists are working on.

The event is FREE. Doors open at 7pm (Chalkwell Hall), there will be drinks & nibbles, guest speakers, networking and more.

Hope to see you there!

Day Trip to Margate

SEVEN went on a day trip to Margate to see the exhibition Entangled: Threads & Making at the Turner Contemporary gallery. It was a very blustery day!

Entangled: Threads & Making poster

The exhibition included sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery from the early 20th century to the present day. It featured work from over 40 female artists, from different cultures and generations, who challenge established categories of craft, design and fine art.

Here’s a small example of what we enjoyed:

Margate Knot – Anna Ray
You are a Lady – Ghada Amer
Erotic Cases – Rivane Neuenschwander
Penguins – Laura Ford
Sky – Kiki Smith

Exhibiting artists: Anni Albers; Caroline Achaintre; Ghada Amer; Paola Anziché; Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter; Phyllida Barlow; Marion Baruch; Karla Black; Margrét H Blöndal; Regina Bogat; Louise Bourgeois; Geta Brătescu; Sonia Delaunay; Sonia Gomes; Ximena Garrido-Lecca; Eva Hesse; Ann Cathrin November Høibo; Laura Ford; Mona Hatoum; Marianne Heske; Sheila Hicks; Susan Hiller; Maureen Hodge; Christiane Löhr; Kate MccGwire; Annette Messager; Rivane Neuenschwander; Lucy + Jorge Orta; Arna Óttarsdottir; Sidsel Paaske; Maria Papadimitriou; Anna Ray; Maria Roosen; Ursula von Rydingsvard; Hannah Ryggen; Betye Saar; Judith Scott; Samara Scott; Kiki Smith; Aiko Tezuka; Rosemarie Trockel; Tatiana Trouvé; Frances Upritchard and Joana Vasconcelos.

The exhibition runs from Sat 28 Jan – Sun 7 May 2017 @ Turner Contemporary

Leigh Art Trail 2017

We’re very excited to announce that SEVEN will be taking part in the 20th anniversary of the Leigh Art Trail in June 2017.

Over the coming months, SEVEN will be exploring the challenges of working collectively, using seven processes within themed parameters, to create seven sketchbooks based around the theme of the sea. The resulting body of work will be tactile and our intention is for it to be inspiring and visceral, both to ourselves and to our wider audience.

We’ll be posting regular updates here and on Twitter and Instagram of our journey.

Village Green Festival 2016

For the second year running we were given the fabulous opportunity to exhibit our creative sketchbooks and altered books at the Village Green Festival, organised by Metal@Southend.

This year the event took place on Saturday 16th July and our work was displayed in the Metal Art School.

The group has over time created a significant body of work; when the books are all displayed together they make an impressive and exciting spectacle!

Its also refreshing to allow the public to handle and interact directly with the sketchbooks and both the audience and artist seemed to benefit from the experience.

Each artist took turns to invigilate the exhibition throughout the day and we all received very positive feedback from the visitors.

Trawler Paper Article

The local Meetup group Trawler, in addition to their regular meetings and public events, have also produced a local paper called #TrawlerPaper.

Trawler, is a publication that contains interesting stories, photo essays and interviews written by local people about their passions, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The first edition of Trawler was launched in July 2015, which sourced crowdfunding to cover the printing costs (everyone kindly contributes their time for free). This proved to be so successful that it also part-funded this second edition.

In this edition Jo wrote an article entitled: ‘A Visual Conversation with Yourself’. The article tells the story of her experience of attending the Creative Journal workshops at Metal@Southend. The paper is only available in print form, so make sure you pick up a copy and look out for future editions.

Village Green Festival 2015

Having attended a Creative Journal course at Metal@Southend, we were given the opportunity to display our journals and altered books at the Village Green Festival on 11 July 2015 in Chalkwell Park. We jumped at the chance.

Metal had recently renovated an old stable block in Chalkwell Park into an art school. Located in the centre of the park, with views of the gardens and the estuary beyond is where our exhibition was to be held. We visited the venue a few days earlier to drop off our sketchbooks and to check out the space. Each artist was allocated a one or two hour slot in which to invigilate the exhibition and explain the project and work to visitors.

On the morning of the event, we set out the sketchbooks and altered books on tables that would encourage visitors to handle them. The work is very tactile and we wanted this to be a fundamental part of the user experience.

The festival only opened at 11am and the exhibition was quiet to begin with, but as the park began to fill with people we soon had a regular flow of visitors wandering in to have a look. The festival is a family event and we had visitors of all ages dropping in…

We all thought the exhibition was a huge success and everyone who took part really enjoyed the experience.