Yesterday, after a leisurely shopping trip around Sheffield (leisurely mainly because we had to stop off at a café every 20 minutes or so, to allow Gill to breast-feed Morgan), we popped into the Graves Gallery. One of their exhibitions was of the work of John Hoyland; it was wonderful – huge, huge canvases (in an almost suitably large space) splatted with simple bright colours. I wrote in the guest book that it made me want to dance. Almost everyone else who had written seemed to love the show too, although one person said that it was an “insult to call this art – a 3 year-old could do better”. Rowan seemed to be of a similar opinion: her very words were “I could make a painting like that – it’s not very special, there’s nothing clever about it, just colours”.
Also in the gallery was “Changing Galleries”, a workshop event. Visitors were given cardboard boxes and encouraged to fill and decorate them using the large array of materials on hand. I think Rowan’s attempt was more guided by her abilities than her favourite things – she stuck coloured material and tissue paper on the surface of her box (as well as sticking a cup cut from an egg-box inside, which she said was a nutshell) and she told the helper that her favourite things were “yellow, red and green”. I scrawled “Snuggles” on the big roll of paper hanging from the wall, and made a person – body of 2 egg-box cups, head of another, covered in felt and with arms & hands of rolled up felt. The arms I then wrapped around another, smaller person – body of 1 egg-box cup, head of a smaller cup from between the eggs. I stuck my snuggles sculpture into Rowan’s box, and felt a glow of creativity – it was the first “thing” I had made in years, really made me feel good to do something with my hands for a change. Photos of us artists holding our creations will be made into a montage for the opening of the new Millennium Galleries.