Day 3 - (or, the one with the crowds)

We always thought this would be the busiest day, and so it would prove to be.  With three artist workshops due to take place in quick succession, there was a fair bit of work to do in making sure things would go smoothly, and that the workshops were as accessible for participants as possible. 

Rachel Gadsden was to be up first, exploring physical expression through painting and drawing; Aaron McPeake second, inviting participants to play with explanation, and work alongside him in thinking of ways to describe the art objects he makes. Sally Booth was to follow, planning to bring the theme of Whistler’s ‘Nocturnes’ into her workshop as evening came and the lights came out on the skyline.

Artist and blogger Fae Kilburn describes the sessions in more depth in her blog:

'The first was a very expressive drawing workshop run by Rachel Gadsden, she has fantastic knowledge of the human body, its proportions and how it moves. Rachel has a natural ease when interacting with participants. She provided examples of artist work such as Kathe Kollwitz, who had a way of capturing movement and emotions in her figures. Rachel moved in different positions through out the workshop so that participants could capture movement in their drawings, there was some great images produced.

The second workshop was a sensory session, run by Aaron Macpeake, combining taste, touch, smell, emotion and audio description. Participants were asked to eat raisins or crisps, then draw what we were eating without looking, a lot of fun was had during this section. Aaron also encouraged us to write how the food made us feel, or what it reminded us of. Audio description was also used. There was some interesting results at the end of the workshop.

The third workshop was a drawing session run by Sally Booth, this workshop played on your senses. Sally asked everyone to pair up, sit with our backs to each other, one of us looking out the window describing what we could see, the other drawing what was being described to them. I loved this workshop, I enjoyed seeing how people dealt with the loss of control, some found it very difficult not to turn around and were wriggling around in their seats, everyone involved was very animated, you could see moments of frustration on both sides because one couldn't see and the other thought their description was clear and then there were moments of calm. Everyone who took part stuck with it and embraced the moment'.

For more of Fae's insight into the sessions go to this link here; blogger Mel Griffiths gives her own take on events at this link here, meditating on Aaron McPeake’s sensory session. 

Rachel Gadsden stands side on to her audience at a drawing workshop. In the background people of all ages are kneeling to sketch her profile

participants of varying ages at a large chalkboard, skethcing shapes under the supervision of Rachel Gadsden, while other participants look on, many sketching while they kneel on mats

people kneeling and drawing intently ina worskshop setting. in the foreground is a middle aged woman and in the background a man of the same age, both drawing thoughtfully whilst kneeling

Young people sitting with their backs to us, and looking up intently in a worskshop setting. Sketches on paper are on the floor, suggesting they are learning how to draw with charcoal or pencil of the same age, both drawing thoughtfully whilst kneeling

groups of people of varying ages, mostly seated on floor cushions, observe Rachel Gadsden as she leads n art workshop in front of a large blackboard with florid sketches on it

Participants at Rachel Gadsden's workshop


man leans forward whilst involved in aworkshop; the man is surrounded by other people, all of whom are using art materials in an atmosphere of enjoyable activity

three women lean forward whilst involved in aworkshop; the man is surrounded by other people, all of whom are using art materials in an atmosphere of engaged activity

two women lean forward whilst involved in a workshop; they are adjacent to a man in an atmosphere of engaged activity

a woman sits holding art materials in a workshop; the mood is an atmosphere of enjoyable activity

pairs of hands, dark and pale skinned, of people engaged in an art workshop using a variety of textures

a dark haired woman sits next to a young girl in an art workshop; they are laughing and chatting and clearly are from different generations and ethnic heritages

Participants at Aaron MacPeake's workshop


sally booth speaks to a group of attendees, describing art techniques to them

people of mixed ages and backgrounds take part in an art workshop

young people sit drawing in an art workshopyoung people sit drawing in an art workshop

two women sit shoulder to shoulder drawing in an atmsphere of calm concentration

people of mixed ages and backgrounds sit in pairs drawing and sketching in a focussed way

Participants at Sally Booth's workshop


So much happened throughout the day, to enjoy, take part in and learn from.  Many people stayed for hours - the entire day in some cases - and the energy and atmosphere in the space was crackling.

The experience of the Shape team made sure that it was as enjoyable and fluid an occasion as it could be, but even so, you learn as you go, and we did reflect later on ways to make such sessions more accessible for blind and partially sighted people. For example, like having greater use of tactile materials such as foil instead of paper when people were asked to try out drawing techniques - moulding foil or similar materials can achieve exactly the same aim in a different way.  On the flipside of this, our provision of British Sign Language attracted deaf participants to the workshops, including those who dropped in, not knowing there was something going on, and who had simply noticed the interpreters. What was highly significant for us and the artists was how deeply people engaged with the sessions, and with each other, and how many people stayed for hours - the whole day in some cases. 

A delicate but vivid scent with a powerful infusion, reminds me of hot summer days and tranquil places, with the sound of effervescing, bubbling water and warm atmosphere of July and eating strawberries and cream

Participant description of a scented object during Aaron McPeake's workshop


For a great range of images, and to hear the feedback we received from participants, go to this link here:


Images from the art showcase and audio description space are set out below. This was the day when most people made recordings, wrote, or drew responses to the work – and in some cases made responses to the overall event, so that layers of responses began to grow in an organic process. 

people looking at the Shortlist art disaply at Tate exchange, some of whom are making audio descriptions of the work on ipads

a man squats before the Shortlist art disaply at Tate exchange; he is making an audio description of a colourful sculpturen ipads

people looking at the Shortlist art disaply at Tate exchange, some of whom are making audio descriptions of the work on ipads

two people looking at the Shortlist art display at Tate exchange; the works they are paaign feature images of Donald Trump

Participants and visitors explore the ARMB showcase - go to the day 1 blog for details


Apart from thanking the artists for making this a remarkable day, full of incident, feeling and insight, we would like to thank Cass Art for generously providing the art materials.

  Cass Art logo 


Join in on our conversation, tweet @ShapeArts using the hashtag #WaysofSeeingArt to let us know your thoughts.


Photography c. Andy Barker


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