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  • Writer's pictureRae Story

Art, Nature, Elizabeth Gaskell & Ruskin

Today we did the first of four workshops at Elizabeth Gaskell's House as part of our contribution to their celebration of Ruskin during 2019.

Based on Ruskin's notion that engagement with art and nature can enrich people's lives spiritually and lift us out of the mundane concerns and stresses of our lives we explored Swinton Grove Park and Elizabeth Gaskell's Garden for most of the afternoon.

Below are some of the images we made as we looked at plants and flowers, trees and shrubs. Spending time with plant life and so much new growth at this time of year was a pure pleasure and as Trae said back at St Luke's: "everyone came in with a big smile on their face". That says it all really. Spending time outside, looking closely at buds and new leaf growth certainly lifted our spirits and gave us a breathing space away from our ordinary lives.

Here is a selection of images that we made (keep scrolling down as there are more images below):

First we did some rubbings to warm people up and think about textures and shapes:

We then did a series of drawings either with our left hand or without looking, again the idea is to get a way from drawing what we think things 'should' look like and help us engage more with the actual shapes and images as we sense and perceive them. This is a great way to practice mark making - something to definitely try at home!

Then we went into Elizabeth's Gaskell's garden - which is beautiful in spring. A lot of thought has gone into the planting and it was really a pleasure to have this opportunity to look closely and spend time drawing. We did a series of 'Exquisite Corpse' drawings of plants, we did a short mindful listening and relaxation practice followed by an observational walk and then as the rain started we went into the lovely cafe where Adam served us tea and we drew from memory and from a series of objects that Adam found for us - things that would have been used in the house and garden at the time Elizabeth Gaskell lived there.

Next workshop we will be revisiting Elizabeth Gaskell's garden and Swinton Grove Park, but this time with mindful photography as our focus... watch this space...

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