This year has been a difficult one so far for everyone, but it was also the best time to reconnect with ourselves and the ones that our close to us. It was like a long holiday for some lucky ones but think about those who do not have money, space at home, privacy, gardens or even basic supplies like soap and sanitisers.
Many kids lacked digital devices and internet access and were deprived of education during lockdown. Even paints, pens, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, paper, glue, scissors – things most of us take for granted were not available to all. In large households with many family members living on top of one another, lockdown has been a significant challenge. This is especially the case for many mothers who find it difficult or even impossible to preserve some time for themselves.
So that is exactly how Art Club came to rescue. With the help of the Open University’s (OU) Covid Chronicles project and Swansea Asylum Seekers Support, I started this art club on Zoom to give children and their mothers something to do. Art materials were bought by OU and SASS and they were safely delivered to doorsteps by volunteers. We contacted families to ask if they had access to internet and a laptop or phone so that they could join the class via Zoom. We also set up a WhatsApp group. A professional Zoom account was provided to me to make sure that kids had enough time for their session activities (the free version cuts out after 40 minutes). And we started on Saturday 20th of June 2020.
The sessions are well-planned, and details are shared with mothers in our WhatsApp group, usually on Friday, so that they can prepare the materials, and they can let us know if they need anything. We always try to use materials that are easy to access and of course safe for young kids. It is not just a fun session, young artists can actually learn a lot from this club because I have just graduated as a designer. I introduce them to news ideas and methods, vocabulary, materials and new ways of drawing and creating objects. The children that I work with also teach me things.
Here’s an outline of some of the art activities that kids have enjoyed and a selection of their work.
Session 1: Continuous Line Drawing :
We started with some basic warm-up drawings, and then spent the session doing continuous line drawings and observing our surroundings. I showed the image below as an example. It was a really good exercise. We had 13 kids that joined us and we also spent some time getting to know each other.
Second session: Calligraphy
We did Calligraphy and we used our favourite patterns in the calligraphy. Kids really enjoyed using more than 2 pencils at a time and writing their names using this technique . The number of kids grew again in the second session and I started noticing how the mums were enjoying drawing too. We wrote eachother’s names and our own.
Third session: Making Pets and Recycling materials
In this session we made some pets including cats, butterflies and foxes. We used discarded toilet rolls and in the process, we learnt a little bit about recycling.
Fourth session: Paper Weaving
In this session we did paper weaving. We used discarded paper from magazines, fliers , newspapers etc and we made Greetings Cards out of our weavings.
Fifth session: Block Printing
We learnt a lot about block printing. Using potatoes, we carved out little patterns and motifs, making potato stamps. Then we printed our very own napkins . Kids really enjoyed learning about block printing, and it amazed them to know that this technique is used by big designers in the real world.
Sixth Session: Resist Painting
In our most recent session, we tried resist painting using masking tape and wax crayons to resist our design on paper that we then covered in paint and it created a beautiful art when we removed the tape. I also added some little stretching exercise for hands and arms after 30 minutes in each session. Mums enjoy a nice cup of coffee while the kids and some of them too are having art therapy!!
NylahMAK is a multi disciplinary pattern designer based in Swansea, graduated with BAhons Surface pattern design from Swansea College of Art. Her work is a mix cross cultural motifs and hand printed details. Nylah’s love for textured surfaces and detailed conversational patterns is also evident in her designs. Trained in printed textiles , her background in furnishing fabrics and traditional printing techniques, tangibly informs her art, exploring the relationship between patterns and cultures.
As well as constantly developing her personal practice and creating prints.
Nylah has worked on the following projects:
Idott – Winner of National Wallpaper competition 2020
Winner of AVA Training 2020
Orangebox- designed a hand printed sully for Orangebox furniture company.
St.Fagans- Displayed her hand printed and devore fabrics at National History Museum Wales.
National Wool Museum- Hand embroidered a tea towel in response to ‘Women in the War’.
Exhibitions of work include , Clerkenwell design week London and Water front museum Swansea.
follow on Instagram, nylahMAK