This week we are featuring an article by Alison Hepburn of the the BAMM north regional group about their latest project as part of the Hull City of Culture 2017:
BAMM’s northern group was established in 2004 and is a thriving group of mosaic artists and enthusiasts. As a group we get together to share information, materials and ideas and to hold exhibitions and take part in projects. Our latest adventure is being part of the Hull 2017 Year of Culture.
BAMM North is made up of an amazingly diverse team including academics, sculptors and teachers, all of whom are talented mosaic artists. These talents came together to write a winning proposal for inclusion in the year of celebrations.
Our proposal was based on making a ‘mosaic murmuration’ of over a hundred birds, half of which would be made by our members and the other half made in workshops. Two of our Hull artists looked around for a venue and discovered empty white walls in the train and bus station crying out for our mosaics.
The bird blanks were designed and hand cut from wood, then they were carefully indexed and primed and then allocated to our artists and to the workshops. When planning an installation like this there are some important decisions to be made such as materials, guidelines and in our case making sure that all of the birds were flying the same way – left to right. The title is ‘Fly to Freedom’ so the effect would have been ruined if a few birds were flying the wrong way.
The original MDF bird blanks were cut in several shapes and over the next month we tweaked the designs and started to distribute them to our members. A large project like this involves a lot more than just making the mosaics themselves; we attended meetings with the Hull 2017 team, the train station manager, we managed a budget, social media and of course held lots of BAMM North meetings.
We are lucky to have some very good teachers in our group and established that we would run five workshops in the community to make fifty of the birds and then make another fifty ourselves. The first of these workshops took place at the beginning of April and the other four followed soon afterwards. In each workshop there were between twelve and fourteen people attending with a BAMM North course leader and several other members helping out. These workshops were designed to involve a variety of community groups from older people to the young, faith groups, the able bodied to those with disabilities.
The Hull Year of Culture is divided into four seasons, with our workshops taking place in the second of these and the work being installed in the third. Our next big step is when we gather all of the birds together to finalise the design of the layout. We are going to do this at the Sheffield studio of our resident sculptor who has designed a hanging method to minimise the disturbance to the walls of the station. The challenges are endless and exciting, for example, the station is in use every day so the installation can only take place overnight. We have also had to plan for taking the installation down at the end of twelve months and then there are the challenges of signage and planning the launch.
Every project that BAMM North completes stretches us and our skills a bit further and increases our enthusiasm for the next one.
The installation will be seen by thousands of people in Hull and online. Visitors to the Hull 2017 Year of Culture will see it as they arrive in the city and commuters will see it every day as they travel to and from work. We hope that our work will brighten their days and also inform more people about modern mosaic.
Please log in to leave any comments and here is a link to the Hull City of Culture events and specifically the mosaic installation: https://www.hull2017.co.uk/whatson/events/fly-to-freedom/