Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Company of Cranes tours to Hagen, Germany

A selection of my work created for 'The Company of Cranes' is currently on show until 22nd May 2016 at the Ariane Hartmann Gallery in Hagen, Germany. Here is the link to the exhibition

I met fellow artist Ariane whilst we were exhibiting together in another exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Craft in New York in October 2015.  Ariane invited me and several other artists who share a love and interest in Cranes to respond to the theme "Kraniche - Cranes - Zugvogel des Glucks" - "Migratory Birds of Happiness". It is a real honour to be part of this exhibition especially as the Cranes in Somerset released from 2010-2015 have German origins!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Crane Spotting of a Different Kind!

It has been a while since I posted on the blog but thought I'd share some Crane images of a different kind with you! Recently some friends visited China and before they went I set them some homework! The task was to photograph as many Cranes motifs, pictures and sculptures as they could find. Knowing the Crane is a highly revered symbol in China symbolising longevity and peace - I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I am amazed at how many different ways this iconic bird has been realised by different artists and crafts people and how it can be found almost everywhere you go, - on stonework, ceramics and many more objects and in many places.

Scroll down for all the photos my friends took (thank you friends) whilst out and about!

 All photographs copyright Deirdre Figueiredo, Helen Juffs and Theresa Simkin 2015.

Large bronze urn/vase at the Imperial Summer Palace Beijing.
Crane mosaic set into pavement.
Cranes painted above doorway, Beijing.
Stone panel at Yuyuan gardens, Shanghai.
Left: Cranes at Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai. Right: Cranes on vase at teapot museum.
Left: Cranes in Yuyuan Sculpture gardens, Shanghai. Right: Bronze Cranes stand outside the Summer Palace. 
Cranes depicted in wooden panel.
Crane motif set into pavement in Imperial Gardens of the Forbidden City.
Cranes depicted on this beautiful room screen / panel.
Left: Stone carvings in newly restored part of hutongs, Beijing. Right: Another Crane mosaic set into pavement.
Crane atop a wall at Yuyuan garden.
My friends were invited into the house of locals for tea and this beautiful print was hanging on the wall!
Left: Cranes above a doorway in Beijing. Right: view of the whole doorway.
Left: Crane head with wing and landscape. Centre and right: Painted beams. All photos Summer Palace.
Cranes depicted with trees in this unusual diorama. 
Another beautiful Crane landscape painted over a doorway.
Stone carving depicting Cranes and Landscape.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Schools Crane Twinning Project!

Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium in Brandenburg and Huish Episcopi School in Somerset.
Left: Pupils from Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium  Right: Pupils from Huish Episcopi School
June has been a busy month delivering Crane inspired art workshops to two schools that form part of a fantastic new schools twinning project! The twinned schools are Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium in Germany at the heart of the Biosphere Reserve and Huish Episcopi school at the heart of the Somerset Levels!   A week or so ago I travelled with the Great Crane Project to the Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg Germany to visit Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium to deliver their Crane art workshops, visiting Huish Episcopi too on my return to do the same. I am very grateful to Jane Munstermann, (Educational Volunteer at Great Crane Project) for running workshops with me in Germany and the UK and teachers Petra Koglin, Susann Schuster and Linda Green.

The twinning project brings together pupils of a similar age with the aim of sharing the story of the Cranes re-introduction to Somerset, through art workshops and related activities with the aim of forging a long term friendship between the schools.
Left: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium spinning a Praxinoscope I made for my ‘Company of Cranes’ commission in 2013. Right: Huish Episcopi pupils viewing photos of Freies Gymnasium pupils with their finished artwork made during my visit.

Whilst the Crane team were out ringing young cranes in the wild, Jane and I visited Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium for two days to deliver metal and mixed media art workshops. The pupils at Freies Gymnasium were able to learn more about the process of the re-introduction of the Cranes to Somerset, try on the Crane rearing suit and generally gain an understanding of how important the eggs collected from the biosphere (the school sits in the centre of it) have been in terms of the re-introduction process.  Jane and I visited Huish Episcopi school using the biosphere as inspiration, learning about the importance of it, it’s legacy for the Somerset Levels in terms of providing a home for Cranes who in turn provide eggs for a future population of Cranes in Somerset.
Top left: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium try on the Crane rearing costume! Top right and centre right: Photos of the Somerset Levels and the Biosphere Reserve for inspiration during the art workshops and metal dioramas in progress.  Bottom left: Damon Bridge, Great Crane Project Manager making a copper bulrush to contribute to an artwork.  Bottom right: Huish Episcopi pupils exploring one of the dioramas made by pupils in Germany which I managed to flat pack and bring back to Somerset!

Pupils from both schools shared information about nature found in each other’s locations, and how the Cranes live and survive in each.  We explored through drawing into metal foils our different landscapes and other flora and fauna that share the Cranes environment.  We discovered many similarities but also differences - the biosphere is heavily forested whereas the Somerset Levels are not. But both have suitable wetland areas for Cranes to thrive.
Top left and right: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium making metal Crane inspired landscapes. Bottom left and right: Pupils at Huish Episcopi School assembling their artwork and creating illustrations for printing onto metal.
Pupils at both schools were very enthusiastic about creating artwork and using metal - for the first time in some instances. Metal is not a material often used in school art classes. I have printed and explored metal in my own art work for nearly 20 years and I was keen for the pupils to experience using such a versatile and beautiful material.  Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium pupils created dioramas (layered pictures a bit like miniature theatres) from aluminium and copper with an emphasis on embossing intricate details into the thin metal foils.  The results were very beautiful as you can see below in this small selection of photos:
Metal dioramas created by pupils from Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium depicting wildlife from the Biosphere Reserve and the Somerset Levels including, cranes, dragonflies, wild boar, foxes, butterflies and beetles.
Pupils at Huish Episcopi School also used metal foils that were printed with their own illustrations in the creation of colourful landscapes and miniature worlds inspired by the biosphere reserve and the Somerset Levels. Pupils also shared small components within the artworks – Freies Gymnasium pupils included photographically printed metal Somerset cranes in their artworks and Huish Episcopi Pupils incorporated printed metal bulrushes from the biosphere into their pieces. 
Miniature metal landscapes created by Huish Episcopi pupils inspired by the Biosphere Reserve and Somerset Levels depicting cranes, dragonflies, caterpillars, butterflies, wild flowers, bulrushes and water parsnip.
It is wonderful that Cranes and a shared interest in nature and conservation have brought the two schools together. Pupils will be emailing each other with a view to sharing information and maintaining contact and engaging in more projects in the future. Young people are the future custodians of important places like the Biosphere Reserve and Somerset Levels.  I believe it is imperative that they have the opportunity to partake in such a special project – that being the story of the Cranes re-introduction – so they can pass on these important conservation messages to future generations.
Top row: Some of the Freies Joachimsthaler pupils with their fantastic finished artworks!  Middle row: Some of the Huish Episcopi pupils with their equally amazing finished pieces! Bottom row: Group photos of pupils from both schools.

Here is a link to a special page on the Company of Cranes resource website with lots more photos about the twinning project:

Top left: Beate and Eberhard - the wonderful and important conservationists that locate the eggs in the biosphere reserve for collection with the Great Crane Project team. Pictured here with my Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve Praxinoscope! Other images: - some of my favourite photos of Crane landscapes.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Seasons Greetings!

Wishing you health and happiness this winter and lots of Crane sightings!
From Melanie

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Giant Tunnel Books in Europe with our beloved Cranes in full colour!

A completed tunnel book containing 6 sections depicting Cranes in their vibrant habitat.  The book formed a tunnel that when peered through was like looking into a long theatre with many proscenium arch stages.

I have just returned from leading a Crane themed art workshop in Belgium with 100 children from Turkey, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, Lithuania and UK (Ash School)! We made 9 giant tunnel books that were nearly 2 metres in length! It was a wonderful experience - the pupils were brilliant, creating fantastic, colourful, vibrant and stunning works of art, all inspired by the beloved Cranes and the environment in which they live. We also explored the flora and fauna that share the Cranes habitat. The children worked in mixed groups which was great for learning about the Cranes, making new friends and learning each other’s languages.

I found it so difficult to choose and edit the photos that in the end I decided on a long blog post with lots of images! If you are interested at the end of the blog are the correct words for 'Crane' in the different languages as translated to me by the teachers from Europe. Before I went to Belgium I had a go at translating myself and on the whole got it right - but with a few corrections from the teachers last week! Here are the photos of our creations:

Left: Pupils from Turkey assemble and design book pages. Right: Ozlem, teacher from Turkey, peers through a book page in progress.

Top Left: Pupils and I preparing illustrations. Top Right: Eurasian Cranes bugling against a colourful landscape. Bottom: Peering into the tunnel!

The pupils loved learning about the Cranes and the other insects, birds, fish, animals and flora that share their environment in Somerset and other places in Europe. They took so much care drawing and applying colour with oil pastels and pens to the individual elements, resulting in these lovely pages.

Tunnel books in progress with a beautiful and vibrant book cover top right.

Top Left: Pupils work together to create their book. Top Right: Pupils with their tunnel book which was big enough for them to stand in! Bottom: Another colourful Crane diorama.

I love the green and red Cranes that the children have illustrated. Although you don’t get Cranes with these colours in the wild, we decided we were allowed to use our own ‘Artistic License’ and our imagination to create these story book Cranes that are full of character!

Cranes, Cranes everywhere!

A beautiful diorama with lots of hidden details.

I was so impressed with the amount of details the pupils put into their artwork. This diorama is full of animals, plants and the very back of the book depicts a Crane on a nest in a swamp! Tunnel books are great because you are constantly discovering something inside them as the pages are slightly obscured. It is only on close inspection that all is revealed, meaning you can always re-visit them and find something new. I had one as a child and I still love it to this day.

Pupils from across Europe present their finished tunnel book with Beccy Swaine from Somerset Art Works and I, after a hectic but exciting week of art!

Left: European teachers with one of the pupils finished tunnels. Right: A beautiful tunnel book cover.

Me and Adam Hawkins, a teacher from Ash School, talking about the Great Crane Project on the first day we met the pupils and teachers.

I must mention and thank my fantastic collegue Beccy Swaine from Somerset Art Works for working with me last week.  It was a busy week ending with fabulous results!  Thank you to all the teachers too, Vicky and Adam from Ash School and teachers from across Europe- it was wonderful to work as a team for the week.

Crane - translated into different languages as verified by the European teachers!

Spanish - Gruilla / Grulla
Turkish - Turna
Italian - Gru
Portugese - Cisne
Bulgarian - Jerau
French - Grue
Lithuanian - Gerve
Romanian - Cocor - no Romanian schools in Belgium, but thought I'd include the translation here.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Grue, Kraanvogel, Grulla, Grou, Gru, Cocor, Gerniniai, Turnagiller

As the title suggests - I have been revising the name for Cranes in different languages!  Tomorrow I am off to Belgium to lead a Crane arts project with children from 10 different European countries!  We will be making large scale tunnel books and below you can see some of the reference materials I have prepared.  We will be using the Cranes habitat as inspiration including other creatures and plants that share the same environment.  Watch this space in a week or so for a blog post with photos of our creations.

Reference materials we will use in Belgium to explore Crane and their habitats.

Metal insects @ Curry Mallet

Recently I visited Curry Mallet school to deliver a metal insect workshop.  It was a fantastic day and the pupils made some stunning aluminium and copper insects based on insects found on the Somerset levels.  Here are a few photos of some of the pieces produced that we installed in a tree in the school grounds!  Well done to all the pupils for making such beautiful artwork.
Metal bees, dragonflies and beetles made by pupils at Curry Mallet school.