So… two weeks ago PANDA comissioned me to design and build a Christmas Tree installation, in Workington Town Hall, on behalf of the new labour MEP for the North – Julie Ward, formerly a PANDA associate, and now a Patron… Not your every day brief! Right away my mind started whirring. The brief included coming up with the design concept for an installation which could be reused next year and onwards, not using a real tree. Also I was asked to somehow create and deliver accompanying workshops to decorate it – for the many groups using the Town Hall as their base, including especially the mental health charity MIND – co-ordinators, volunteers and drop in members. Add to this Counsellors, Estates Teams, Arts Officers, Citizens Advice Bureau workers and more. I had just ten days, but I was inspired!
I got to thinking about how I could make the tree structure. I have built my own sets for shows, and am more than used to rolling as a one man band – directing, designing, lighting, filming, all in one go. But I would need a little helper given the time constraint. I needed an elf, and not just any elf… and what with it being so close to Christmas… Most elves are busy entertaining or preparing for the big day ahead. So… after a good ole headscratch I thought – bingo! – who better than Pete Blacker? Quite elf like by anyones standards. Polymath extraordinaire, engineer, scientist, computer whizz, avid climber and – with a man with van business on the side. Thankfully Pete was happy to come on board!
Thinking of things I could stack to make the tree reminded me of several years working as a picture framer assistant to photographer, artist and picture framer Jack Lloyd at the House of Bystander Gallery on Beech Road in Chorlton. We used to stack the frames in a kind of spiral so they wouldn’t fall over…
Follow this link to see how the project evolved and see pictures of the build and the final piece: