Lockdown measures may have been eased in recent weeks, but many of us – especially those with children to entertain – are constantly looking for inspiration when it comes to activities to keep minds occupied.
With that in mind we asked Daniel Wallis, an artist, maker and educator working across galleries and museums, and with arts charities in the UK, to share some of his favourite online activities to help you explore art at home.
Hello, my name is Daniel. I’ve worked with the Southbank Centre in various ways, for over 10 years. I’ve been involved in helping young people to make public art for display on the site, to run their own public facing events, and give tours of exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery. Through this I’ve been able to talk to people from all over the world about the best art out there. I was honoured to be asked to put together this blog and in it I will be focusing on helping you find inspiration directly from other artists. Enjoy!
Just before the lockdown I met with 30 primary school children at the Hayward Gallery to begin planning a Hayward Gallery Takeover. Inspired by the artwork of the gallery’s Among The Trees exhibition, this would’ve been an event that the children would lead – full of their own ideas and activities – for 200 other students of a similar age.
We were too early in the process for me to share the students’ ideas with you, but I have put together three activity videos that draw inspiration from the artists in the show and its themes. The first (above) focuses on photographic art, whilst the others are on language and sculpture.
Offering projects, lessons, and tips by a massive range of artists to help you get creative whilst housebound, the Isolation Art School is one of my favourite Instagram pages to have sprung up in the past few weeks. Set up by Keith Tyson – an artist I found inspirational when starting out in my art career – the idea is simply to put together creatives and people who want to learn. Traditionally many artists support themselves through teaching, and on this page Keith asks creatives to provide free resources which he shares and then links to other work by them. So if you enjoy learning from a particular person you can track down more of their lessons. Brilliant stuff.
ACAVA, the Association of Cultural Advancement through Visual Art, not only provides affordable studio space for artists to work in, but also teams up those artists with its local communities. My experience of these sort of initiatives across the country is that they’re more than just a provision of art skills and knowledge, they’re also a great way to build communities, individual self-esteem and pride, and spread fun and enjoyment. I absolutely love their new online home, especially the activities that are presented in simple drawing guide formats with tips and feedback from participants at the end of each. Activities include making puppets, ink drawings, and paper sculptures, but my favourite may just be the Rubbish Pets.
I met John a few years ago at an event where artist educators and teachers shared ideas, and his work as an artist in residence working with a school’s nursery students was fantastic. Art John’s YouTube channel is aimed at teachers, with ideas of how to link art with other curriculum topics in the classroom, as well as some simple but striking art activities. However, his videos are perfect for this period of learning at home and you don’t need to be a teacher to use them. Another great thing about these videos are the introductions, from jumping into the ocean and appearing in a bath to using his mobile phone to teleport through a locked door, they are entertainment in themselves.
Talking about entertainment, another YouTube art channel I love and watch for hours on end is Olga Soby’s Smart Art Materials. On her channel the artist demonstrates acrylic pouring methods often with a backdrop of meditative music. Mesmerising. There are plenty of videos about the acrylic pouring technique but I find these the most relaxing.
I have only tried acrylic pouring once myself, with some students on a summer course I teach at Chelsea College of Art. after watching the same few videos from Olga’s channel, everyone created vastly different things. These techniques are experimental (and messy) and I’m sure you could try with a huge range of paints. I like experimenting – with no set end goal and the ability to succeed with any outcome you can inspire yourself with each iteration.
Compiled by Daniel Wallis
The show must go on(line)
Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.
As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.