Blog 4: Ellie Griffiths (FRAMES)

18 December 2017


For the second part of the FRAMES residency I wanted to go bolder, include more of the pupils and have more visual impact on the school environment. This was inspired by my trip to Milwaukee (as part of my Churchill Fellowship) to spend time with the incredible Anne Basting of Timeslips.

This company works collaboratively with older people and those living with dementia. Hearing Anne speak about her projects Islands of Milwaukee, and The Penelope Project made me reflect on my work in the school so far and raise my ambition. Anne is all about ‘impossible ideas’ that ask ‘beautiful questions’. There is an amazing book by her you can read called Forget Memory.

I wanted to take the pupils on a trip to the modern art gallery, to take them seriously as consumers of art. After talking with Fiona from Imaginate about the reality of this, I realised that this was extremely complicated, as the gallery are really not set up for a visit from people whose behaviour can be this challenging. It’s been shocking to me how restricted many of the pupils are in activities they can be part of outside of school. According to the social model of disability  it is the job of society to make public spaces accessible. This gave me an idea for a creative response to this frustrating situation: Earlier in the residency I made a short film for the pupils, using things I had seen them be interested in. 

The moment that most the pupils loved the most was the end sequence with the balls rolling down the stairs. I decided to make this into a public act of disruption at the gallery, which you can see here

I hope to keep developing this idea, in other locations and institutions, with more balls and bigger stairs!

After realising we couldn’t take the pupils to the gallery, I decided to bring the gallery to the pupils, inspired by the Playing Up project, by artist Sybille Peters 

It was really fun to look at famous works of modern art and to think about the mutual interests of the artists and pupils. For example both are natural explorers of the world around them, both are disruptors of the norms and rules of society, both are interested in a variety of textures and materials.  I selected famous works by artists: Martin Creed, Kayoi Kusama, Rebecca Horn and Zoe Laughlin.