The Beverley Sculpture Workshop

The Beverley Sculpture Workshop was so much fun! This was our first workshop to have more people interested in attending than seats available, and it was really tricky to juggle, but good news if you missed out Michael and Kate want to continue running these workshops! You can contact them directly at the East End Gallery for future updates.

But back to Deco Arts – Michael set up three welding machines and safety gear at the back of the shop, and after introductions and a safety check, the team got hands on in creating their own sculpture starting with a box as a foundation. Some welded each length of pre-cut metal together to create a square, and some used a blow torch and bending to create one folded square (see the pictures if this is confusing). At the end of Day One, at least 3 people completed their sculptures and a couple more had just created their elements.

On the second day, Michael brought out his forge – a hot box filled with charcoal from leftover fireplace scraps and a fan to keep the coals hot. After leaving in lengths of metal to heat up, we removed the metal and either twisted or hammered the pieces into the desired shape. Things wrapped up fairly early, about 1pm, for most people – while others stayed until 2:30 to finish up their piece(s). Everyone was comfortable to work at their own pace, seek help from others, share what was working for them, and generally seemed to have a really enjoyable time making things.

Workshop Recap

Number of registrations: 6/6

Number of actual attendees: 7/6

Best Part: The teamwork – initially when designing this workshop we envisioned 6 people working in pairs to create one sculpture. This would mean that two people would either share one piece of artwork, one person would keep the artwork, or we would donate the artwork to a public space. The Co-Design Committee was uncomfortable with these ideas, and recommended that we instead focus on making one small sculpture for each person. That way each person could decide to either keep, share, or donate their artwork. I was really inspired to see the co-operation between people to help when they were unsure or flat out struggling. On the second day, our person in a wheelchair struggled standing for a long period of time and had difficulty keeping hands steady, so our solution was to have her design her sculpture, and another person welded the parts in place. Most everyone wanted to have their artwork displayed at the end-of-project exhibition, so I’ve got these beautiful sculptures in my office waiting to be seen be the Wheatbelt community – I can’t wait to show them off!

Worst Part: The booking. It’s struggle-city over here in the waitlist. I hadn’t heard back from one person who was really looking forward to attending this workshop and gave away her seat, and that was disappointing for everyone. I also realised that I hadn’t included a location for interested people to say where they live, so then it was impossible to tell who was a Beverley local and who was not from the area. The goal of the workshop is to connect socially isolated people in their own communities, so ideally everyone lives within 45 minutes of the workshop, or at least a mix of locals and out-of-towners, but there’s no way to gauge that if you don’t know where people are from!

Most interesting fact I learned: I was honestly too scared to try any welding. It just is not for me. But I found it SO interesting that everyone who was new to welding said “Oh this is so easy, it’s much less complicated than I expected”. One person has owned a welding MIG for a few months but has been uncomfortable to try and start it up herself, so this workshop gave her both the opportunity to learn and the courage to try it out. In hindsight I wish I had given myself a kick up the butt to Just Do It, the same way I keep telling other people to Just Start. It’s really hard to overcome that anxiety of trying a new thing – especially when that new thing comes with so many sparks and burning material.

What to do again next time: I would call everyone again next time – for various reasons, I ended up on the phone with a few people multiple times, and it was kind of nice to have already spoken with everyone first and then put a face to the name. I liked being able to have that pre-connection with people.

What not to do next time: This was entirely out of my control, but I didn’t have a workshop assistant this time. Last time I had the amazing Brenna, but she has since left WHN and I’m waiting until 28 October before my new assistant (whom you’re going to adore!) starts. My boss had planned to come down on the second day, but ended up covering the Turn Up In Blue event in Northam. This meant that I was running around trying to get everything done myself while still run down from being sick earlier in the week. I crashed SO HARD after the workshop, it was really hard not having that extra back-up. So future workshops are being planned with multiple back-up assistants, there’s no “going-it-alone”!

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