I was recently invited, by my artist friend Dale Leach and the Tinbeerwah Art Group in the Noosa Hinterland, to deliver a print and collage workshop to current members. Packing the car with all my supplies left me without doubt about being a travelling circus! I had to set the stage for what was to come, so off I went armed with artwork, sketchbooks, works-in-progress, paints, papers, boxes of stencils and textures, printing plates and rollers.....
With 7 printing stations set up and ready to go and the table tops scattered with a rainbow of coloured paints and piles of paper, I stood before the crowd feeling a bit like the ringmaster, poised with arms aloft, ready to get the show started! After a few shouts of 'Roll up! Roll up!' we made our introductions and then the juggling began. With eager printers on one side of a long row of trestle tables and Dale and I on the other, we scurried back and forth, tossing tips and tricks into the crowd, pausing for mini demonstrations here and there to keep the ball rolling, all to a chorus of 'Ooooo's and 'Ahhhh's, as prints were pulled with fervour, each one a unique and exciting delight that was waved triumphantly at the assembled crowd creating an unstoppable momentum that kept everyone coming back for more.
The energy in the room was palpable, with ladies allowing themselves to step away from the high wire balancing act of careful colour mixing and fundamental art rules (which got firmly cast out of the Big Top for those three hours) instead seizing the opportunity to learn a new skill so that by the end of the morning we had printing uni-cyclists everywhere who had abandoned their training wheels and were going off in all kinds of different directions with new found confidence.
With workstations piled high with papers by the end of the session and questions galore about where to next, it dawned on me that Dale and I had created an opportunity for these ladies to let out a creative roar, we had unleashed something in this group and there was no quietly stuffing the lionesses back into the cage now! Enabling this new found freedom to approach their art making with a fresh perspective was akin to handing them each a ringmasters hat, putting them in control of their personal art show and by doing so, elevating them to the heady heights of the trapeze, seeing them feel the wind in their hair, daring to fly high and holding on for the ride.
I, for one, will be back for more!