Hash / Tech / Make

WYC Emerging Artist Sophie Mahon talks about her experience of running her series of WYC Makes workshops & how digital art could hold the key to engaging more young people in museums.

For the past six weeks I have run a series of workshops at the Whitworth Art Gallery entitled HASH/ TECH/ MAKE, open to anyone aged 15-25.

The workshops combined messy, hands on making with digital art technology and for me this was a great experience to pass on some of the skills and ways of working I use in my own practice whilst using the galleries extensive collection as a means of inspiration. The first of these workshops saw us looking at the work of both Cornelia Parker and Cai Guo-Qiang and the ways in which both artists use methods of destruction and unusual materials to create work. In this workshop we drew with graphite powder and feathers, threw bullet shells filled with ink against walls and created a drawing machine with found objects. The workshop was attended by a wide range of people from biomedical students, young artists and people as young as 15. What I enjoyed most about this, and the other workshops, was seeing such a diverse group of people working so well together to create really great artwork.


The workshops had an overall theme of transformation, inspired not only my own practice which includes a lot of data and tech manipulation but also by much of the work in the gallery at the time. In each workshop I taught the group a new skill and also had us transform the art created from each previous session, for example in the workshop after our drawing session we used data bending to change drawings into sounds. The session after this we changed these sounds into sculptures which were then turned into moving image. One of the final workshops saw us turn these moving images back into sculpture using video projection mapping software.

One of the highlights of the workshops for me was when an opportunity arose for the group to show the skills they and developed in action. I was asked to VJ at an event at Manchester Central Library and was able to have members of my group try out the VJ skills I had taught them in the previous session live at a public event. I think this was a great opportunity as they were able to show their own work in the public realm and also practice new skills live on stage. I think workshops like this are a great way of engaging young people in the work that galleries and museums do, the people that came to my workshops ranged from students doing their Art MA’s to people who had never done art before but wanted to try something new and I think a hands on, no -experience necessary approach definitely lead to this. I loved being able to engage people in digital art and share some of my own skills and cant wait to run more workshops like this at the Whitworth.

by Sophie Mahon