Annette Pugh believes emphatically in the role artists can play in advancing learning and participation in the arts.
The RBSA artist has been working with people with complex disabilities in a series of workshops run in conjunction with national disability charity Sense.
Making Sense is part of a wider project to explore how we can encourage everyone to engage with the arts. Work produced in the workshops features in Making Together, a multi-sensory exhibition which is on until 9 March at the RBSA Gallery.
Annette described how ideas in her own current practice provided a starting point for workshop themes…
‘The workshops at Sense have revolved strongly around the idea of the natural environment, using plant forms and processes that make the most of this theme.
‘We looked at shape and form for print making, intensity of colour, propensity for use in dying as well as texture and scent. There are so many aspects to consider when selecting resources and the ways in which you can use them.
‘I began from the starting point of my own work. I have been producing a series of paintings and drawings for some time now that focus strongly on place, primarily public parks and gardens. I am drawn to areas of municipal planting and the beauty in forgotten or overgrown areas.
‘For the workshops I wanted the participants to share some of my passion for this subject, in addition to my love of colour.
‘I decided to combine these elements through three significant experiences: eco dying, direct mono printing, and the making of sculptural/relief items. The sense of smell, touch and use of repetitive actions all supports and enables participants and allows for those who have the most complex communication needs to become significantly involved in the creative process.’
Annette is conscious of her own privileged status and how important it is to share the skills she has amassed in her years of teaching art.
‘As an artist and educator, I am lucky to be able to produce my own work and draw upon my experience and practice to develop suitable activities for others. Flexibility of approach is essential to working with Sense, where every session brings new demands and challenges. The planning stages provided me with the opportunity to research and develop environmentally-friendly textile techniques and respond to stimuli in a fresh and diverse manner.
‘The contact with participants has been humbling, I am privileged to have made a difference and feel that I provided valuable and diverse creative activities for the people involved.
‘I have always believed that the role of practising artists on such projects is vital to bring new perspectives to learning and participation in the arts.’
Making Together runs until 9 March at the RBSA before transferring to the TouchBase Pears Centre. The aim of the exhibition is to champion inclusivity in the arts and explore artistic expression with people who experience visual, auditory and other complex sensory conditions.
Natalie Osborne, Learning and Engagement Manager at the RBSA said: “We’re delighted to be working with Sense again in 2019. This new exhibition follows ground-breaking work with Sense last year and continues to explore ways in which people with complex communication needs can lead fulfilling and creative lives.’
Richard Kramer, Chief Executive of Sense, added: ‘We want to introduce more opportunities for people to express themselves creatively and pioneer new inclusive art practice with positive outcomes.’
The RBSA will be offering guided tours and multi-sensory tours during the show. Contact Natalie at the RBSA on 0121 236 4353 to book a place.
All photos: Annette Pugh
This project / exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and a donation by the Grimmitt Trust.
Annette has displayed work recently in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, followed by a solo show at Reuben Colley Fine Art. She is currently completing a large-scale drawing for Coventry Drawing Prize. Later this year she will be working on the Next Wave curators and NWA show at the RBSA and the team is already planning for Next Wave 2020, the RBSA show for emerging and mid-career talent.
Annette is a painter who also works with lens-based media. She specialises in the use of digital and analogue technologies and their impact on painting and drawing. She has worked extensively with community based projects and in education as teacher/lecturesr of art and design to MA level. Annette has exhibited widely in group and solo projects and her work is held in commercial enterprises and private collections.