Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Living a creative life in Hamilton
As if I wasnt already in love with Girls High girls, my Hamilton Girls High School Residency finished with a three day 'junior camp' for Year 9 &10 (13-15 years old). Students are offered about 30 options ranging from windsurfing or a train trip to Wellington to stay-at-home day camps with an arts focus. I was offering one of the latter, and had ten of the loveliest girls sign on, along with 4 teachers (three part-time)- an enviable adult:student ratio for such a low risk activity!
My idea for the camp, called 'Living a Creative Life in Hamilton' was to give the girls a taste of life as an artist/writer in residence; and to counter the persistant image of Hamilton as a dull, stifling environment that people should escape in order to fully develop their creative selves*.
The first morning was an intensive workshop to make a blank labyrinth style journal to use for the rest of the camp. Everyone completed their books in time to take them along on our afternoon crawl around four exhibitions. Most students said their favourite of the afternoon was the Wintec 3rd year painting students, I think because the show was varied and vibrant, with work produced mostly by people only a few years older than my students and thus similar cultural perspectives.
Keri Smith's 100 ideas** and using them to spark all sorts of wonderful pages.
Our quiet, self directed time in the morning was a good grounding for our afternoons of going out into the town. On Tuesday we participated in an arts event for World AIDS Day in Garden Place. My Fairly radical Crafty group and Hamilton Pride had prepared handpainted red lasercut hearts of card attached to bamboo stakes and provided a couple of tables of crafty supplies. People could decorate or write on the heats and then we installed them on the lawn in a loose heart shape. The camp girls took to this project with great enthusiasm, not only decorating hearts but recruiting heart-decorating passers-by, and collecting funds while giving out red ribbons. It was great experience of sharing one's creativity with community for a good cause.
Metropolis, followed by a leisurely look around Browsers Second Hand Bookshop. The latter was named as a camp highlight by some, and I think was an eye-opening pleasure for others who hadn't been anywhere like that before.
ArtMakers Trust, a training establishment for creative young people. Sylvie welcomed us warmly, the work of ArtMakers is interesting and meaningful, and the trainees are kindred spirits to my camp girls, so I won't be surprised if some return to ArtMakers in a few years.
*If you've been following my blog this year, you can probably tell that nothing is further from the truth. Hamilton is alight with all sorts of creative opportunities for producers and audiences to enjoy and be challenged by.
** I printed out the pdf onto coloured card and cut them into little squares to be drawn from a bag. I've tried to get adult friends to use these cards for inspiration, but until the camp no-one had really liked them. I've done just a few cards myself, but I haven't yet been short of my own ideas and creative tasks since I've made Keri's cards, so I'm saving them for a dry time, which will eventually come. I'm also looking forward to kicking my butt out of some future slough of self-pity with Keri's Artist's Survival Kit.