Find my Mela Workshops HERE
A couple of years ago I was asked by Middlesbrough Council to work with another artist and with loads of groups, making 100 (I kid you not) hula hoop sized textile Mandalas to be displayed around the park at Middlesbrough Mela. No mean feat.
This year the amazing Middlesbrough Mela – this celebration of Asian culture, of music, taste, colour and sound could not happen in its normal home of Albert Park- at the centre of the town – because of Covid restrictions… so what is a group of creatives to do? Take the Mela online!
Making films isn’t entirely new to me, but making films in my workroom at the back of the house in between the dog barking, people delivering and an assortment of DIY going on outside certainly was a new experience.
We began our journey with a meeting of the fellow artists on the project .. Leader Lisa and JR from the council had assembled a fantastic group of creatives both local and from further afield.
The project sits around an online and physical children’s book, which in the tradition of the Mela would bring in a story that picks up on Asian tales, written by Umar Butt, who also translated it into a range of languages, and beautifully illustrated by Becki Harper. It tells the saga of Sara the Tortoise who loses her home and all her friends, picking up on themes of migration and asylum but in a totally child-friendly way.
After some great Zoom meetings (who knew Zoom would be such a thing) and loads of watsapp discussions between all the artists and project leaders we came up with a range of activities; Dance , mask making, printmaking, windsock creating, yoga and banjo making on the website, alongside my two workshops (see the workshops at the end..)
And off we went – Filming our little instructions as we went – I bought a tiny light rig and phone holder to stand above my table to do mine, attached to a wooden box. A real Heath Robinson affair. After lots of head-scratching download / upload fun, all the film clips went to film-maker Paul to create his magic. Meanwhile we artists and a willing small socially distanced gang of helpers were making 100 free kits to go with each film – that’s A LOT of free kits!
On top of this, I’ve started making my own films, the first one can be found here:
So here they are .. I’m really chuffed with my films and amazed by the others, the story and Umar’s storytelling too. Get yourself to the Mela website and fill your own world with colour and magic…
Wrapped Mandala ( using the basis of god-s eye wrapped sticks)
https://youtu.be/53OhjN9zbcQMela Granny Mandala (a mandala based on granny squares)