Hands of Earth Gallery

November 16, 2010

The Hands of Earth Gallery was part of the Sticky Fingers Mini Festival at Slieve Gullion Forest Park, County Armagh on October 16-17, 2010. The gallery offered opportunities for children and their parents to work within an outdoor woodland studio creating nature sculptures, suspended wire compositions, and small accordion books.

The outdoor art workshops were introduced by a tour of an indoor display space filled with ideas for making artworks from walks in nature. The goal was to encourage families to develop their own nature gallery at home, using autumn and winter walks as the basis for creating artworks.

The idea of setting aside a dedicated area in the home to display the ramblings of family walks, can develop over time a visual diary of not only family outings, but showcases the different perspectives of family members. Each member of the family creates in their own way, making the marks, forms and shapes that are personally significant. As a result, the home gallery is an assembling of different personalities and their efforts to portray individual experiences.

The Hands of Earth outdoor studio was situated underneath a tree canopy embedded with fallen autumn leaves, offering a sense of enclosure and retreat.┬áThe natural art materials used within the gallery and workshops were moss, bog, river water, clay, branches, leaves, sheep’s wool, pine cones, and charcoal. Photography and words describing the experiences of adults and children were also explored within the outdoor studio. Working underneath enveloping trees, within the light of kerosene lamps, children and adults were co-artists, collaborating on a shared passage within the forest.

The methods of making the artworks were inspired by the practices of contemporary artists working with nature. Many artists working outdoors use weather conditions, earth, plants, trees, weeds and flowers to instigate not an illustration of nature, but an exploration of transience, feeling, thoughts, and a physical response to landscape.

Sticky Fingers Early Years Arts can be found on Facebook. Sticky Fingers is an arts company for very young children in Ireland and the UK. Their programme spans early years theatre, music, visual arts and dance, as well as accredited arts training for artists and early years professionals.