Centre for Imagination at Manchester Art Gallery

students make notes at MCR art gallery

Words : Kellie Craig

Students from College 3’s Centre for Imagination are based at Manchester Art Gallery in order to pursue their collaborative projects, to create a number of interactive pieces in response to Ryan Gander’s upcoming exhibition at the city art gallery in July. The aim of the project is to create ideas for a programme of engagement events that let the public’s imagination run free. Today the students were working with some of the education team in order to participate in an activity usually undertaken by adult education groups.

After being introduced to a rather mysterious looking ‘beehive’ box containing numerous items of curiosity, the task at hand included picking an object and talking about why you had chosen it. Many of the reasons why the various objects were chosen were rooted in themes of personal experience and therefore gave students the confidence to talk in front of a group of people. The aim of this exercise was to explore how we relate to objects that are perhaps more unusual and unconventional, and how we seem to continue to find themes and create ideas based around objects that are somewhat ‘useless’ in an everyday context. Some of the curious examples included a ceramic bell attached to a magnifying glass, a piece of dolls-house furniture glued to a hand mirror and a miniature ship suspended in the strings of a violin bow.

Once the group had discussed the reasons behind choosing their objects, students took their objects and proceeded to look around the new sculpture exhibition on the first floor of the gallery. Incorporating themes of the human condition, abstraction and transformation, the chosen objects now had to find a link with an existing piece of artwork within the exhibition. This revealed more insight into how themes are identified and how people react and respond to works of art that may initially seem to be void of meaning.

Interactive Arts student Carly Bainbridge said of the activity session, “It’s relevant as we’re looking at child-like imagination and responses. We are also looking at how workshops function as we’ll be proposing a series of summer workshops alongside the Ryan Gander show”. This workshop in particular added resonance to the ‘blue sky thinking’ attitude of College 3, taking objects from the every day and repurposing them to create discussions around art.

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