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Factory International x Kusama + Me! - Art Education Series.

The art scene in Manchester has been buzzing with the incredible inaugural exhibition at Factory International’s Aviva Studios, the inimitable Yayoi Kusama’s ‘You, Me and the Balloons’. A truly immersive experience, filled with wonder, colour and pattern that evokes a sense of child-like joy in all who visit, I was thrilled to be asked to create an art education series around Kusama’s awe-inspiring work.

In the past I have been commissioned for art education series by broadcasters and galleries such as the BBC, the National Portrait Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery. The combination of arts and education is one I have always championed and these are amongst my favourite projects to be involved with.

This series consists of three films and was created to help people engage with the exhibition in new and exciting ways. My three films focus on how my own art practice and approach aligns with Kusama’s through a strong use of colour to elicit feelings of joy in the viewer, and ideas for how you can take inspiration from nature to create your own artwork. Infinity is a strong theme throughout Kusama’s work and one that really resonates with my use and love of pattern, something I knew I would present in the films.

These resources can be found online or by scanning the QR code at the exhibition itself for a truly immersive learning experience. The three films each focus on a different aspect of Kusama’s and my own work; observing nature, creating infinite patterns and using colour. When planning the resources for the films I knew I wanted to bring this idea of infinity in through pattern work, as this is such a fun way to express creativity and imagination. Taking inspiration from nature and playing with creating shapes in new ways are huge parts of my personal art process, and ones which reflect the spontaneity of Kusama’s work. You could combine the ideas from all three films and bring the elements together to create a pattern, or else choose your favourite and get creating!

The hope and goal is that schools and students will engage with the resources, but also that anyone who visits the exhibition, or has an interest in Kusama’s work, will be inspired to flex their creative muscles and have fun with the tasks presented.

For this commission I was able to really tap into different facets of my personality and experience by creating the resources, coming up with fun and creative activities, and finally presenting the resources alongside a great team of people. So much work - and copious amounts of tea - goes into these projects behind the scenes, and while I normally work alone in my day-to-day studio practice, I always find so much joy and excitement being part of a team.

I would love to thank Sameed Rezayan, Head of Creative Learning at MIF and team, who commissioned the films, Lewis Robertson, on sound and Dan Cohenwho directed and edited the films and whom I first met up a ladder while creating a mural at Withington Walls! It was also great to see Princess Arinola Adegbitecreate her spoken word resources inspired by Kusama.

A feeling of excitement and joy resonated throughout the project and using these emotions as a springboard helped the films become something I hope will be enjoyed and used as a source of inspiration for anyone who feels driven to create.

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