16 Jun

Presentation at Drawing in the University Today, International Drawing Conference, Porto.

I was invited to present my paper Learning to Dance on the Page as part of the International Drawing Conference in Porto, Portugal on 1 June 2013. The two day conference had Drawing in the University Today as its theme. The conference was a great success with many intriguing projects and papers delivered over the packed two day programme. The papers will be published in September. I will post more details when I have them. In the meantime, if anyone requires a copy of my presentation and paper, please do not hesitate to ask.

16 Jun

After Hours at the Polestar Club

Playwright and performer Christine Watkins invited me to be part of ‘After Hours at the Polestar Club’. In 2010 we visited the Arctic together in search of the Northern Lights, and although we didn’t see them, the trip provided inspiration for us both in a number of ways we have worked on since. For this performance we are joined by Sianed Jones and the premier was on 12 June 2013 at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. More performances can be seen on 15 August at Chapter Arts Centre, and at the Green Man Festival 17 and 18 August.

Review for ‘After Hours at the Polestar Club’

15 Aug

Action for Children’s Arts Award

I have just received a letter to tell me that I have been nominated to receive one of the annual Action for Children’s Arts Members’ Awards in recognition of the contribution my work makes to the enrichment of children’s lives through the arts.

The ceremony will be held at BAFTA, Piccadilly, London on 20th October 2012.

I am thrilled and honoured to have been chosen for this award. Thank you to all the children who have worked with me over the years, this is for you, too.

Dylan and Seren drawing movement with the video projection

Dylan and Seren drawing movement with the video projection





19 Jul

3D at Ruthin Craft Centre

3D at Ruthin Craft Centre

projecting onto the window

3D – dance, art and music collaboration at Ruthin Craft Centre with NEW Dance, Maria Hayes and Daniel Weaver.

Over three days, the artists facilitate a group of young people to make a dance, art and music performance piece in response to the current exhibition of work by Wendy Ramshaw and Richard La Trobe-Bateman.

The performance is on 20 July 2012 at 7pm.

20 May

The Big Draw – Drawing Inspiration Award

Cath Sherrell (Aberystwyth Arts Centre) and I attended the Big Draw Awards ceremony on Thursday 17 May 2012 at Courtauld Institute of Art and were presented with a certificate designed by Quentin Blake.

All the Energy Gift Exchange workshops for the Big Draw took place at the School of Art Gallery, Aberyswyth University.

Follow this link for more information.

Drawing Inspiration Award certificate by Quentin Blake

6 Apr

Drawing the Line

Here is my talk I should have given this week at Engedi – but was cancelled due to adverse weather – snow and gales!

Anyway, hope it makes sense and if you have any questions please contact me. Thanks.

29 Mar

Big Draw Award

Professor John Harvey added the news of my Big Draw Award to his blog.

Performing Arts students from Coelg Ceredigion performing the Energy Gift Exchange

Performing Arts students from Coleg Ceredigion performing the Energy Gift Exchange

15 Mar

Drawing Inspiration Award for Energy Gift Exchange Big Draw workshops

Since it’s launch in 2000, October sees ‘Big Draw’ events take place all over the UK and Internationally to encourage drawing. Participating venues are encouraged to document their projects and submit them for one of twelve prestigious Drawing Inspiration Awards. Sponsored by the Barbara Whatmore Charitable Trust, the judges look for innovative and engaging events.

A unique collaboration between Maria Hayes, the School of Art (Aberystwyth University) and Aberystwyth Arts Centre presented ‘Energy Gift Exchange’ workshops as part of Hayes’s exhibition ‘Shedding Skins’ for the ‘Big Draw’. Sue Grayson Ford (Director Campaign for Drawing) and Bryony Matthewman (Drawing Inspiration Awards Coordinator) contacted Cath Sherrell, Education Officer at Aberystwyth Arts Centre to announce

’You are a winner! Yours was one of the best entries we received.’

For 12 days the ‘Energy Gift Exchange’ workshops offered a rolling programme of performers, storytellers, musicians and dancers to be drawn in the video projection space in exchange for a drawing of their movement.  In addition there were Energy Gift Exchanges between members of visiting groups.

The Award ceremony takes place at the Courtauld Institute of Art on 17 May.

Performing Arts students from Coelg Ceredigion performing the Energy Gift Exchange

Performing Arts students from Coelg Ceredigion performing the Energy Gift Exchange


27 Nov

Energy Gift Exchange Day 12 18:11:11

The last day of the Energy Gift Exchange was busy and varied.

The first group were from Coleg Ceredigion, adults with mild learning difficulties. Most of the group were happy to participate and worked in a focused and concentrated manner. Although not everyone had a go at the easel working with the hand in the projection, everyone drew. One member of the group had been in a previous workshop. He gently asserted himself as the ‘expert’ in the group and encouraged some of the shyer members to participate.

Writer and performer Amanda Rackstraw arrived in the middle of the day to work with me. Amanda had prepared a mixture of traditional stories and poems including some of her own work. We warmed up with poems, then she told two longer stories, one about the Finn Folk and the other, a transformational tale called ‘The Skeleton Woman’.

The final group to come in to the gallery for a workshop were students, also from Coleg Ceredigion. These lively young people are taught Performing Arts by Louise Ritchie, who is also doing a practice based PhD. I did an initial demonstration exchange with one of the students performing while I drew his movements. The process of performative projection drawing intrigued them. The students took over the exchange taking turns at drawing and performing. Students not in the projection activity practiced drawing-from-observation-but-not-looking-at-the-paper with materials provided by Aberystwyth Arts Centre for The Big Draw.

The students and Louise discussed how this method could be used as a form of choreographic scoring both to document and generate movement. They were communicative throughout the drawing process.

One of the last exercises involved two performers working with Mike Pearson’s ‘In All Languages’ movement vocabulary, which Louise has taught the students – and two artists, assigned to draw a performer each. As the four worked together an intense focus developed culminating in a tangible buzz of energy at the completion of the piece. They speculated on further possible applications of this performative approach and were stimulated by working across art forms. I look forward to seeing how they develop their ideas.

The Energy Gift Exchange is now complete.

27 Nov

Energy Gift Exchange Day 11 17:11:11

A group from Gorwelion came into the gallery today. They looked at the exhibition and then participated in the Energy Gift Exchange, using each other as exchange partners. This group immediately identified with the movement and the emotional content of the exhibited work.

Some members of the group were hesitant to draw at first but by the end of the session everyone had participated. Comments on the experience included observations on how the process of drawing with the hand in the camera placed the group members in the present moment, which this group agreed is a preferable but difficult place to attain. They felt this was probably because the work required intense focus. It was noted how it ‘stopped you thinking’. This is perhaps an outcome of the right-brain shift, away from the language centred left-brain.

We also discussed alternative methods of drawing without either paper or technology – just by looking at the subject and tracing the observed movements onto the palm of the hand, or another surface, to make invisible drawings. This drew my attention to the central importance of the process, the embodied act of drawing, and made me reconsider the place of the physical outcome in terms of making a drawing, which then exists in its own right as an object.

I facilitate art workshops in ways that aims to immerse participants fully in a creative process; and I propose that an artwork of worth results from such an engagement. The quality of that artwork – whether it works or not in aesthetic terms, depends on the depth and quality of each participant’s engagement throughout the process as much as it rests with their skill with visual media. Furthermore, skill levels are developed and learnt during this engagement. This links creative processes intimately with learning processes. Drawings are complex combinations of expression, skill and meaning. They contain personal and universal codes of language simultaneously.

My role as facilitator is to gauge, direct and ensure the maximum engagement possible for each individual throughout the process of art making. If I do my job properly, engagement with the creative process will produce an outcome of value and worth by default. The artwork produced will be the expressive outcome of a meaningful engagement with the world in visual art terms.

The physical drawings then exist to reflect the process of engagement back to the viewer. The viewer has the opportunity to relive the act of drawing in reviewing drawings made in the Energy Gift Exchange.

Students of the School of Art have been assisting me with groups but had not yet tried the projection drawing. I offered them an opportunity to play, which they embraced. Tom, in the projection, moved in ways that demanded Jacks corresponding drawn response. Tom was performing the drawing he wanted to see by realizing the connection between the type, quality and place of his movements and the drawn outcome.

In the afternoon John Harvey joined me for a performative Energy Gift Exchange.


John is developing performances of sound artefacts – he generates sonic environments. Into this I projected my hand and drew his movements as he worked. We were both improvising and discovering ways to interact or to move in a call and response mode. It took time for us to enter each other’s energy and find the place of connection. John couldn’t see what I was producing so he was working on less external information and stimulus than I was.

I decided to try to work on two drawings and in two drawing modes simultaneously. With my right hand I continued to draw John’s movements from observation, while with my left hand I began to respond to and interact with the sonic artefacts John was producing. In practical terms I had to draw the sounds around the image of John making the ‘sounds’ appear to frame his figure. I discovered that in order to not simply switch between modes and hands, but to genuinely be doing both, I had to begin drawing with the right hand and eye co-ordinated responses and then introduce the left hand and listening. It was a struggle to maintain this simultaneous working, perhaps because I am unfamiliar with it. The difficulties I encountered when learning to play the piano after years of playing violin and flute is the closest experience I can equate it to. I was so used to reading a single line of music that to read two lines at once and play two different lines of music simultaneously was almost beyond my capacities. It was a struggle and one I didn’t successfully overcome despite many hours of practice. The effort to draw with two hands and in two modes was more successful but not continuously. I had to keep returning to the point of entry.

John and I discussed how the act of drawing shifts focus during enactment. My marks document how my eye moves across the subject, sometimes they trace the subjects’ physical presence, outline and/or movements, and sometimes they are pure energy lines – as the energy transmitted between the observed and observer is perceived in that moment.

John reported being able to sense this energy exchange even when he couldn’t see it. We discussed how a mirror or monitor to feedback to the performer what the drawing projection is doing might alter the experience for the performer.



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