Every six months, The Whitworth supports emerging artists from the Whitworth Young Contemporaries during a paid artist residency. Our new artists are Helen Newman, a visual artist, and Patrick Farrell who works in spoken word. As part of their residency they undertake outreach, programming workshops and projects for youth groups in Manchester. Helen and Patrick have been working on a collaboration project with Proud Trust, an LGBT youth group to create a digital quilt for World Aids Day. Here is Helen to talk about what they got up to.
For the past few months myself and Patrick have been working with The Proud Trust, an LGBT youth group based in Manchester, just ten minutes down the road from the gallery. Although neighbours living on the same street, neither of us knew each other or what we did. Meeting with the group we decided to collaborate on a project for World Aids Day. We knew we wanted to create something that represented the group, the youth centre, and look at the work behind combating Aids. After discussion and research we decided to take inspiration from The AIDS Memorial Quilt, a 54 ton tapestry composed of 48,000 panels representing the lives of 94,000 individuals affected by Aids.
Using the idea of the quilt and the representation of people, we decided to create a digital quilt, taking an original idea based around craft and personalisation and bringing those ideas it into the modern day. Before constructing the digital quilt, first we needed to capture the panels that would feature in it. Pat and myself created a series of workshops with the aim of bringing the group together working as a team through drama based workshops learning to tackle a series of puzzles through body movement, creating a collaborative stenciled light sculpture and making an orchestra from everyday objects. Along with capturing the group as a team, we felt it was important to capture the personalities of individuals also. Pat came up with a series of writing exercises that would ask participants to put themselves in everyday scenarios and to reflect on how they would think or act within them, and I showed the group how to make simple stop motion animations based on anything participants were interested in or personal reflections.
Throughout the workshops we made a series videos and audio clips which would feature as individual panels within the digital quilt. Reflecting on the scale of The AIDS memorial Quilt, we used the HUGE projector at the Whitworth to screen the quilt and invited The Proud Trust group to join Whitworth Young Contemporaries for the quilt unveiling.
As my first outreach programme in the residency, I feel the project has contributed to my personal development as an artist running workshops and projects, but most importantly I have enjoyed working in collaboration with The Proud Trust who welcomed us into the group and gave us the opportunity to produce a piece of work that represented the group and the great work they do.
View a short section of Digital Quilt: