We recently hosted Lucy on her school work experience. She was a great asset to our team. Here’s her blog for the week.

Day One: 26/06/2023

The commencement of this experience was gradual. Before I executed any assigned tasks, Cath gave a brisk tour and outline of the important stations within the building (taking primarily into account the levels in which Skippko occupied). This included unit 50 (a newly acquired facilitative space so exciting classes can now take place on site) and their office fused to a kitchen area and storeroom. I was conjointly given guidance to the location of necessities such as fire exits and bathrooms. Partially while my parent was present, we reviewed health and safety regulations. This was in addition to expectations and risk assessments for planned scheduled events. I was able to keep these details on paperwork for subsequent reference. The arrangements for travel, hours (10am-4pm), technological usage and breaks were established. I was queried about any medical concerns or requirements of a personal quality which gave me comfort. Indications were made towards my duties which entail assist project sessions, carrying out administrative responsibilities, developing my own artwork, attending meetings and conducting any other jobs necessary. Once all the important components were confirmed and the full induction was complete, I was able to casually talk to the managers who are extremely welcoming, thoughtful and hardworking individuals who consistently offered me drinks. I then made a start on drawing A3 letters with a marker pen of ‘Leeds’ which was in preparation for Thursdays session entitled ‘Pages from Leeds’. I decided upon creating two sets of lettering, one with a regular font and the other in a street style (relating to my current unit of GCSE coursework).

I hope people will add to these their own comments or ideas on the culture of Leeds or what this city means to them. So far, I have enjoyed observing the arts environment where work takes different contextual forms (both practical and technical). It was distinctly interesting to read the displayed projects executed by Skippko. This includes a series of research into the Suffragette movement as well as ‘Celebrating 30 years in Leeds’ which comprised large scale Russian dolls. These pieces are collaborative works which demonstrate a variety of identities. I admire the gesture of allowing unequipped artists to express themselves through sharing their own experiences. I also have learnt that Skippko was founded in 1988 by two women. Present day Skippko exhibitions are held in many different spaces all over West Yorkshire. Projects took place even during the Covid lockdown period (for example ‘Pockets of Time’) this provided an outlet for many which I find highly commendable. My first day seemed to pass far too quickly, yet it was a wonderful start.

I created the image below in my own time (Monday evening) using an app called Procreate. I layered the original image onto a blue background and decreased the opacity so that a faint outline of the sheets remained. The colours were chosen in reference to iconic colours of Leeds: blue, white and yellow. Finally, I under the settings of the second covering, I selected Hue which provided rustic tints. The outline for the characters in capital was emphasised by using a hard brush at size two within the range.

Day Two: 27/06/2023

In room 50 with Cath, I spent some time preparing a board which previously displayed three photography pieces. This was to create a chalkboard for ‘Cath’s Cozy Corner’. This area will ideally feature comfortable seating and a small coffee table perfect for socialising and making refreshments before sessions. There was a debate at first, however, we settled on painting within the natural borders of the walls structure. The photographs in unit 50 have been on the walls for numerous months. Though these images of nature and industrial designs have excellent magnification, there is now an opportunity to replace them provided by a new program (with the administered lottery funding). Technical challenges have been proposed to artists who work with camera equipment. A description read ‘Lines of opportunity and possibly- shadow lines to nowhere”. This assignment was indistinct allowing photographers to have creative liberty with various themes and categories. Many took to black and white in exploration of machinery. These images relate to society before lockdown. The photos of mechanisms remind me of Cath’s own drypoint artworks entitled “Reconnected”. I viewed these pieces alongside the work of others in the gallery of Bradford College’s Textile Archive (Inkerwoven Inkers- Printmakers a creative collaboration) as shown below.

To relate to the ‘Pages’ project, the ridges of a book will be drawn on the blackboard.

During a quiet period of the day, I made a start on my own artwork piece. I began by selecting materials from the storage room such as magazines, stencils and tissue paper circles. In connection to my art class work, I printed out two sets of drawings on street tags from Leeds (found in Headingley skatepark and in the city centre). I individually cut out each tag and attached them to an A3 card.

The original composition is below. This image (labelled 1) was used for my Street Art folder though it was colourfully modified. See the other variations below.

Of my own accord I chose to work extra time to help organise kit boxes for future meeting arrangements. This activity was surprisingly satisfying. I used small lists for four boxes and applied labels appropriate to the contents while noting the missing stationary items.

Third Day: 28/06/2023

I joined a conference between Cath, Anne and Matthew; regarding updates for the ‘Under the Canopy’ event. I contributed little but liked simply listening to the arrangements. The maximum expected was 12 people and the minimum slightly less. It was established that enough equipment was available to facilitate this session. The artists and project manager each had their diaries open with many dates booked. There would be alterations dependent on timings and teacher strikes. To take advantage of the growing season, dyes will be used from natural sources. Project ideas start abstract and progressively, through the encouragement of others, these crystallise.  Interest around initiative was discussed and a litter picking activity was liked. This expresses an environmental concern of plastic pollution. When group members get together, phone numbers could be exchanged to organise pursuits among themselves. Narratives can be drawn from objects found in Hollybush during sessions.  A jar of red clover compost tea had been made my Matthew.

Later on, in the afternoon during a session there will be a station for sign up forms, lunch orders and arrangements for taxi schedule times. Four members wish to remain anonymous and have not consented to their photographs being taken. Because of this I shall bring Skippko’s Sony digital camera to take shots of people’s hands while working, materials and end products. Socialising with people in the arts industry has been reported by many to have benefited their overall wellbeing. The work that takes place today inspired by the habitat is to be recorded, photographs, writings, poems and other creative pieces. A date will be reserved in due course to allow a finalised conclusion to the group’s achievements. The venue within Hollybush is subject to change dependent on the season (under the canopy or in the circular room). A zoom session may be utilised though it is not preferred by the attendees. It was agreed that the Christmas period is a time that can be taken advantage of in terms of scheduled events.

At Hollybush, before we got started there was time for lunch in the community cafe, the spiced carrot soup was delicious. After which with the group we observed the effect of different materials including:

The plants listed to the right can be disposed of after use in compost. An improvised task was to name your own formulated colour. Matthew took people’s ideas/references and turned them into witty poems in which he read at the end of the session. Everyone was impressed with how quickly he was able to complete these with great expertise. Another associate wrote a single poem about the wildlife that surrounded us which was well phrased. Matthew shared the red clover compost tea. We all took a sip while Anne told us about the health benefits and the superstitious history of clovers. They are packed with vitamins which allegedly help sooth or neutralise stings and sores. The Bible mentions clovers growing in the Garden of Eden. Clovers are seen to be lucky as they are symbolic of money and prosperity. The white clover is believed to break curses and to warn off unwanted spirits. The up-cycled red clover tea was unfortunately not as successful as the other composed teas from prior meetings. It was slightly bitter even though honey was added.

The main exercise of the session was to use natural dyes to colour white triangle shaped fabric bunting. Tape was used to create stencil designs; the dyes were only partially withheld by the tape as they were so strong and seeped through. In order to emphasise my patterns, I drew lines onto my own bunting pieces as shown above.

My Favourite Shots from Wednesday & Short Descriptions

Above is the inside material of Matthew’s red leaf dye jar. This consists of Red Acer and feasibly Red Maples, Birch, White Ash, Sumac, Pacific Dogwood and Paperbark.

The first image displays the arrangement of the activity table with dyes laid out. Partakers composed unique designs with the masking tape and various dyes. Thin sponges were used for application. Gloves were worn as some substances handled were corrosive. Above and below are photos of the finished bunting hanging on a line to dry. Some pieces were coated in high concentrations of sodas and salts to form chemical reactions.

The two images below are creations of participants. A meeting was run on pressing wildflowers between two thin pieces of felt to reveal the retained plant characteristics. This sheet was reserved in a participant’s logbook. The other made by a separate contributor is a division of an unknown natural dye tested on different surfaces. From inspection the dye that marinated most evidently was on the wool material. Otherwise, the dye had subtle impact.

Fourth Day: 29/06/2023

I arrived early to set up the first gathering of ‘Pages of Leeds’ in unit 50. With my two sets of letters (made on Monday) we decided that one set would be used for annotations prompted by discussions on particular questions. The other utilised for a collage. Today’s participants were mainly women over the age of fifty. The street art lettering was attached to the wall as members arrived. All the attendees consented to having their photographs taken, which I will be doing. Two members (who have only recently joined) are also photographers. Today is the advancement of a new block of sessions. There was around 10 members, many who were present had been involved in Skippko projects before while subgroups had formed. The aim of this series is more concentrated and should be observed as a collective effort. Solitary stories will be illustrated in dissimilar procedures. Certainly, by creative writing, poetry and other manifold art forms. A minority of the group had experience in writing. Matthew will assist with this section while Rozi and Anne encourage and facilitated the visual element.

The end goal is a collaborative piece that will be exhibited by 2024. Journals and diaries (of shared use) will be updated along the way to track progress. Rozi communicated to the group reviewed guidelines. This can be altered to apply to different people’s needs. Workshops have risen in popularity after the events of the pandemic and so it is even more crucial that directions are understood so that everyone can feel protected, respected and welcomed. The focal point will be determined by the members, nonetheless, there will always be demonstrations of certain tools and equipment before a task is conducted. No one will be forced to engage especially if there is a material or activity they dislike. The system of working is based upon transmission (specifically the expression of ideas). Work that is formulated by an attendee is their possession and not Skippko’s. Participants must take responsibility for their own safety. Additionally, it would be preferable if the flow of the session was not interrupted by phones however lenience can be given in certain circumstances. Several members are already familiar with each other, this should be further entrenched as the group is built on companionship.

The first pursuit was to note down what you admire about Leeds on a post-it. Once the introduction was complete, we took turns introducing ourselves and revealing our own comments on the subject. These are my post-it notes:

The collages contained, maps, buildings, aged advertisements and vibrant marbled paint scraps. These sections all drew links to the main focus of the culture of Leeds. Photos from around Leeds were displayed. Participants were asked which photos evoked a memory or emotion and to accordingly write their initials to the particular images. I then photocopied the relevant quantities of each. Members took these sheets home and were asked to note down a couple of lines on what comes to mind from looking at the photo. Before departing, preparations for the next session were clarified. The workshop will take place in the family history library where individual work (research into family trees and key dates is encouraged).

After today’s meeting I spent the last hour progressing my personal assignment. This entailed securing the tags and trying out different layering. These are my compositions; my prefered piece outlined in red was a mixture of tissue and transparent plastic divisions. The globes were found in a magazine, drawing connections to my desirable theme of the environment. The boarders are made from stencils found in the storage room and filled in with sharpie/marker ink pens featuring earthy tones.

Final Day: 30/06/2023

Firstly, I listened in a meeting between Cath, Arthur and two Skippko artists (Nicki and Sally). They discussed the attributes and details of the ‘Cams’ (photography) group. Participants deserve to have their finalised work seen for long periods and will be able to initiate the process within the project self sustainably. A dark room will be set up, when the next stage of refurbishment has taken place.  There are currently three groups that are becoming established this includes research, visual art and environmental procedures. Provided by the skill set the Cams attendees may advance to working on new departments or events. Individuals could become mentors to help guide people, allowing them to take control and build confidence. This will strengthen the Skippko comradery connection.

Next year focus will be on older people and personal identity is to be explored. This should delve into notions surrounding education and personal interest. Cams can conduct programs driven by participants taking the lead. There was talk of a pop-up gallery being used however more venues will need to be explored perhaps in York or Bradford. Skippko has a well-structured communication system and honourable values especially on terms of the treatment and appreciation of artists for their efforts.

In the afternoon, Anne and Sally drove me to New Bewerley Community School once the conference was complete. There I helped to run an activity for year one pupils which was the weaving of figures. I was responsible for setting out the equipment including a selection of coloured wool. The children had previously worked on ceramic marine life (such as jellyfish) which were placed onto a large piece of paper alongside other creations. They were individually assigned to attach their piece onto a sizeable woven structure of the sea. These activities relate to their curriculum. I supported the children with their dexterity. This task was created with the intention that parents could work beside them. Unfortunately, the announcement of the event was mistakenly distributed too late and only one parent attended. The children were incredibly friendly and lively. I was called ‘Miss’ on multiple occasions and given hugs of appreciation when I left.

Skippko provided me with a taxi and when I arrived back to Barkston House, we had a sumarative conversation on feedback from the week.

What a gratifying week, thank you Skippko! Lucy.

Thanks for all the hard work you put in Lucy – Cath, Arthur and the artists.