Calvin’s painting + new painting group


During the workshops Calvin brought in a great painting he made of Berthe Morisot from Manet’s ‘The Balcony”, which is in the Musee D’Orsay the background reminded us of Van Gogh’s brushwork also!

It’s a vibrant work, full of intense colour and life, and there’s more news as we heard that the MIND group, inspired by the work done for ‘Beyond the Balcony’ are starting their own new ‘Impressionist Painting’ group with ongoing meetings at Cowley Road.

We (brook & black) missed seeing everyone and working in the workshops this week, really sad the workshops are over!…but are happy to be surrounded by the results as we work with the images and words the workshops produced, to bring them together into the video sequences that all the participants designed in the last workshop.

We’re thinking of you all – see you soon!


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Maralee’s poem


Maralee at the poetry workshop

Maralee at the poetry workshop

Maralee, one of the participants has kindly sent one of her poems that she wrote during the time she was coming to the workshops.

Here it is.




If eyes are windows to the soul, I peer inside to ask –

Soul, are you there?

What do you see?

What do you see out here?








What’s there inside you, soul?

Who’s in control?


Questions only you can see.

Questions only you can answer.

Questions only you can change.


What do you believe?

What is true?


Doors and windows everywhere –

Are they gateways to other souls

Or extensions of your own?


What do you see?

What do you believe?


Doors can bar, or be broken

Imprison, or liberate.

Do they protect, give us peace of mind

Or do they suffocate?


Doors to past, present, future

Which option will you use?

How powerful you are

You can always choose!


Windows can be closed and locked –

Let breath in, or out.

Are they hiding secrets

Providing soft barriers for growing hearts?


What do you believe?

What do you see?


See – that window opens!

See – that door’s ajar!

Kaliedoscopic changes

Reforming, near and far!


Colours brighten, dark recedes,

What light is thus set free!

Are you beginning to believe,

Believe what’s there to see?


Watch closely now, and

Know it is your right.

Create it now, choose it now,

And watch it come in sight


Colour in that bright new world –

Paint it, thought by thought.

By magic you create it –

All you’ve ever sought.


Hooray!  The future beckons

Just as you believed.

Revel in your brave new world,

Creator of all you see!


— Maralee Gibson

Oxford, Feb. 2016

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Workshops: Week 5

So, this week was our final week of workshops with everyone and as we worked it felt really sad that the regularity of a Tuesday and Friday creative morning, with smiles and new friendships, was coming to an end.


Choosing the poetry text


Working on the composition

Our focus was to combine the work undertaken in the previous weeks into the ‘layers’ needed for the final film. With this in mind, and helped by Tess and Emma from OYAP, we looked again at  each person’s collage of an interior, considered again the view we might have from our balconies and imagined ourselves sitting in the middle, on the balcony reciting or dreaming the poems we had previously written.

tiff and mario

framing the backdrops

When each person had made specific choices of their balcony, these were then organised collectively into a time line or storyboard to help shape the final film.

There was much to celebrate as we saw it come together as a narrative, with discussion of text, sounds and the overall we wanted for the mood of the final work.

tess and helene

discussing the storyboard

Over another splendid lunch we reviewed our experiences of the previous weeks, the sharing of ideas and thoughts in relation to the painting, and how much we had all gained from time spent together over five weeks at the Ashmolean in the company of Fanny Claus.

Thank-you so much everyone for coming along and being so generous with your thoughts and creativity, and a big thanks to the Ashmolean for making it all work so brilliantly especially Nicola for her great support.  We are really looking forward to seeing everyone again to celebrate the final work!


reviewing the storyboard

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Workshops: Week 4


YDUK: looking at portraits together

YDUK: looking at portraits together

We were back up in the galleries this week, again wonderfully assisted on Friday by Tess, from OYAP, and there were cameras everywhere on Friday as well, as Sam Hamper a filmmaker was with us making a video about the whole Portrait of Fanny Claus project.

Sam Hamper documents us as we work

Sam Hamper documents us as we work


He was video-ing us as we were making digital video  of all the participants and they were making photo portraits of each other and choosing some portraits in the collection to re-frame and look at again.

2016-01-26 11.39.42*

“Stage direction” with YDUK participants

We set up a Greenscreen in the Sickert gallery, so that we could take short video sequences of everyone, that will be digitally added to the final video work, which is now beginning to take shape.

dramatic flair

dramatic flair


While we shot the video, those being filmed had to imagine they were on the balcony, and direct their gaze to whatever scenes they imagined lay in front of them.

MIND: imagining the scene

imagining the scene

2016-01-29 11.56.44*

re-framing images from the collection


Meanwhile back in the next-door galleries participants were taking portraits of each other and re-framing favourite faces from the collection.


MIND: in the gallery taking portraits

a striking profile portrait


A lovely portrait of Nicola in the gallery.



The workshops were very lively, with other groups of visitors to the gallery moving about, all interested in knowing about our project and what we were filming.

a new portrait from old

creating new portraits from the collection’s images




Next week we’ll be storyboarding the final video, using the clips of everyone on the balcony, the interiors they’ve visualised behind them (week 2), the views they imagine in front of them (taken from the Ashmolean collection or their own photos from home)  and the poetry they have written (week 3) and words they have spoken during their time here.

a conversation of the "balcony"

A conversation on “the balcony”

In this last coming workshop we’ll also try to video one or two people who didn’t make it this week, to make sure they appear on the balcony:  so make sure to come for the final week!  Thanks again for such a fun and creative workshop this week!



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Workshops: Week 3

MIND circle

MIND Talking about poetry

This week we completed the third week of workshops with YDUK and MIND, having looked last week at the ‘room behind the balcony’ (an imaginative image of what supports or lies behind us)  for this week’s theme: ‘the person on the balcony’, we used poetry rather than imagery to  explore, very broadly, a sense of what is important to who we are now – expressing ourselves through words.

YDUK constructing poem iii

YDUK Concentration and creativity


We listened to  Baudelaire’s poem, The Balcony, and read aloud some favourite poems before starting to create our own works.


Combining words the Bowie way

YDUK Combining words the Bowie way




We used a method inspired by Dada, William Burroughs and David Bowie of cutting up fragments of other poems and recombining them to start ideas and freedom of thought, through which intuition allowed a beautiful range of thoughts and memories to emerge.



MIND finding the right words

MIND finding the right words

We were all surprised by the intensity, humour and humanity that came through the works…really beautiful.





We had a lovely french-themed lunch afterwards and tried to imagine we were in a vineyard under clear blue sky, and talked about our poems and our lives.

YDUK enjoying french-themed food

YDUK enjoying french-themed food

We made a poetry wall of the lovely works.  These works will be used in the final video ‘Beyond the Balcony’ that both groups are working towards.

MIND poetry wall

Thanks again everyone who came to the workshops (must mention Tess from OYAP on Friday who did a wonderful reading of  Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat) we were really moved by the works and excited by the way all the participants are giving such great creative energy into the process. See you next week!

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