Category: Interactive Art

Whenever i am at an exhibition i will always be drawn over to the area where there is a statue or some other sculpted piece, but am not usually as interested in the more surreal sculptures – until i came across Martin Shaws sculpture at Oldham Gallery in February of this year.

Martin Shaws shape shifting sculpture at Oldham Gallery


Martin explained that he wanted the sculpture to interact with the building, with its architecture, as if it was some sort of parasite. It did look like that to me,a nd also resembled a long stretch of giant sized intestines! It wasnt until i studied it that i realised that the sculpture (that was inflated with air) would change shape, as it either filed with more air, or emptied accordingly – it was as it if was breathing and writhing around the structure it was wound around. Shaw explained that the sculpture was connected to a fan and a timer, and its movement was all part of his design – to allow the audience to ‘experience’ the sculpture.

Six years ago Shaw was awarded a fellowship to a uni, where he learned how to use computer aided design, this has drastically changed his working practice as he now starts pff all of his designs on the computer, creating their ‘virtual form’, he then draws the sculpture around them. He explained that the type of software he uses is simular to what they use to design ships.

The size of the sculpture was huge! I asked him what he  intended to do with it when it was dismantled and he told me that believe it or not it would all fit into a back bin bag when deflated, and would go in a cupboard! The sculpture is made from the materials used to make parachutes, and he has a seamstress that does his sewing for him – it took her 45 hours to sew all the panels together!

Martin Shaw and his shape shifting sculpture


I asked Martin what other materials he had worked in, he told me he had used plaster and resin, but he would do ‘modelling’ rather than ‘carving’, he also uses stainless steel but only really for the structures. The thing he enjoys the most is to create sculptures that move and are interactive, where the audience feel involved  and can ‘experience’ the sculpture.

As part of the exhibition he had also created some vacuum formed wall sculptures that changed colour as you looked at them, and as you moved around them and looked from a different direction they would seem to change form and shape.

All very clever stuff, and very enjoyable to experience martin – thank you

Shape shifting wall sculptures by Martin Shaw

This is the second to last session with the children, but it is the last session they would be spending on their ‘balloon characters’ and they were all VERY excited at the thought that not only were they going to be able to  decorate them but that they would also be able to take them home! I had been very aware of the fact that they had spent 4 weeks making these characters and that  was too long for children to wait for the praise that can potentially come from parents when a child completes something and takes it home – so i made sure that every week half of the session was spent creating something small that they could take home. I also knew that children, as many adults, do not have a very long attention span, plus i also had children in the group that had challenging behaviour, so i knew i needed to keep changing the activity in order to hold their interest.

Todays first part of the session was on ‘mixed up animals’, where the characters would be made from combining two or more other characters together. They then had to name the character and say what strengths it had, especially as it had the additional strengths from another creature.

The example i gave them was from one of my own characters called ‘The Lird’ i told them the rhyme about the Lird:-

‘Have you heard about the lird?

He’s a Lion crossed with a Bird…..

People say ‘he’s a bit of a nerd’….

‘he wears pink glasses….and he eats lemon curd!’

The children loved the character and the poem and also talked about how brave the Lird was as half of him was a lion, but that he was fast and could fly high up in the sky as he was also half bird. We then compared the mixed up animals to real life, talking about the fact that we are all ‘combinations’ of one form or another, and that everyone is different, including us!

The children made flip books, where they drew four characters on four different pages, and then cut each character into three and then through folding each piece backwards and forwards they could make ‘mixed up characters’ that they then named and described.

The Lird!

Mixed up animals created through the flip book!

The second part of this session was to finish off the balloon characters, and this entailed lots of glue, fabrics, tissue paper, pipe cleaners and such like – and lots  of fun! The ‘birds’ that were being made in the group really started to take shape with their flapping feathers being carefully placed, and the monsters started to look really scary with their scales and tentacles…….ooooooeeeeerrrrr…. these characters were really coming to life!

A lovely bird character

Another lovely and colourful bird

Green scary monsters!!!

Monsters with tentacles!! -oooooooh scary!!

birds with very very big beaks!!

This session was a real learning curve for me as a teacher and a workshop leader .Even though my experience is with adults aged 16+ rather than the age range 5 to 11 i still found that similar issues would arise in the group, particularly connected with classroom management. Each week i would take a maximum of 10 children, it was limited to this number  because of the amount of space they needed in order to create. Sometimes the combination of children would be slightly different and it was interesting to see in this session what happened when a few of the more challenging children attended the group that day. This was only an issue at the beginning and as the session was all about what scares you…the children were soon distracted into talking about scary monsters and things ‘under the bed’!

Trying to reinforce the learning from the previous session i reminded the children that ‘nothing is wrong’ in order to help with their creativity, as i had noticed in the past that some of the children were really scared to not ‘do things right’, so i explained to them once again that this wasn’t possible when it comes to art and being creative, and that really we want to draw and create things that look totally different to what we are used to creating! (i reminded them of the Picasso self portraits – and that seemed to do the trick straight away!)

So the first half of the session was spent creating monster book marks,  where they would create two different monster characters – one with a happy face and one on the other side with a scary face.This would allow them to use the skills they had learned on previous sessions with reference to ‘expressions’

Monster Bookmarks

Very Sassy Monsters!!

The second half of the session (after juice and biscuits) was to carry on working on their paper mache balloon characters, but this time to add features and character! The aim of this was for them to use the designs they had drawn the week before, and to choose one to now use as a character. Some of the children decided to create monsters similar to the ones they had just drawn, some decided to create birds with big wings, and some i wasn’t too sure what they were but it didn’t matter as the children knew and i think they were busy developing a new species!! Good – and sticky sticky fun was had by all!

Sticky stuff!!

Lots of monsters.........

Jean Wilsons "Current" installation

Chrissie Smiths "Aquis sculptural glass"

I became interested in Colour Therapy a few years ago, whilst working as a Teacher and Holistic Therapist. It all started as i observed my red haired son become more irritable and moody whenever he wore a bright red T shirt, and wanted to know why this was. I also didn’t understand why he suddenly started sleeping very badly after i had moved him into his newly decorated bedroom that i had painted in lovely shades of yellow and blue. I wanted to know why this was happening, and decided to investigate more.

The interesting thing about Colour Therapy is that we all use it already, but aren’t always aware of doing it. Most of us are aware of feeling better when bathed in bright yellow sunlight, or feeling more solemn on a grey day, but are we aware that this is a direct influence of the vibration of the colour itself and the way the eye absorbs it?

Colour theory itself is quite a complex subject, and to understand the significance of colour therapy it is essential that we understand the complexities of the multidimensional physical – etheric anatomy of the human body, as well as the range of light and vibration within the spectrum.

It is important also to understand that the body itself is composed of millions (if not billions) of vibrating atoms, a lot of us will have studied the make up of the atom in Science lessons, and will also have heard of the energy that was released when the atom was split and Nuclear energy was discovered, well we are in fact, as humans, a collection of energies, all vibrating at different frequencies.

How often do you walk into a room and ‘sense’ something uncomfortable, how many of us have sat next to someone and sensed they are getting angry without them even saying anything? As a Holistic Therapist i am extremely aware, and sensitive to others energies because of my job, but all of us in our own way are aware of energy at some level.

“Colour Therapy is the use of the vibrational frequency of the spectrum to correct the imbalance or disharmony in the human body” 

Although Colour Therapy is a huge subject, and i certainly don’t claim to know all that there is to know about it, i will endeavour to give you a little insight into the power of colour.

Take a look at the colour boxes below (click on the blue link) :-

  1. Which colour are your eyes drawn to first? – make a note
  2. Which colour do you not like look ing at?

DON’T choose a colour that is your favorite colour, or the colour of your best top – try to lose any attachment to the colour and go solely off your instincts.

colour boxes

  1. Now look at the colours again – get as close as is comfortable to the screen, and one by one, spend at least 3 minutes staring straight at the colour, without looking away.
  2. Allow your eyes to absorb the colour.
  3. When you feel a change in either your body (may be temperature or sensation) your mind (may remind you of something, or some random thought come into your mind) or your emotions ( you may suddenly feel anxious, or excited etc) – then look away, and make a note of what you experienced.

PLEASE NOTE – not every colour will have an effect, some you will find will be quite neutral, some you will find you cannot look at for the full 3 minutes

I have only put a small sample of colours on, to make it even more effective – print the sheet out and take the sheet over to the window where you can get more natural light on them. I do this test with coloured silks in workshops, and students are always amazed at the results.

In brief, each of the colours we see, either in our environment, in our homes, in our clothing etc, is absorbed into the energetic make up of the body, either through the eyes, or directly affecting the electromagnetic field around the body (that we call the aura), that is why Colour Therapy can also affect the visually impaired.

Many tests have been done monitoring the effect of coloured light on blood pressure, and it was found that people placed in a room with a red light would experience a rise in blood pressure, where as people who sat in a room with a blue light would notice i lowering of blood pressure. Colour Therapy has also been utilised in Neo Natal Baby Units where premature babies have been wrapped in blankets of bright red and orange because of their stimulating effect on the physical body, and to help the tiny babies thrive.

I myself had quite an amazing experience with Colour Therapy when i was in Hospital in 2005. I had been taken in with a perforated Appendix, and it was very serious. I was told that when they opened me up my body was full of Gangrene, they sprayed the inside of the abdominal cavity with Antibiotics, but were unsuccessful at killing all the bacteria, so i ended up with an abscess which i was told could at any time turn to Septicemia! I had been in Hospital for 16 days on intravenous Antibiotics, and they were monitoring my temperature every two hours (even through the night). The sign that i was still full of infection was the fact that my temperature refused to fall, and the Consultant would come every day to tell me if i didn’t get my temperature down i would have to go back to Theatre, but this time the operation would be even bigger. I couldn’t face the thought of that, and at the same time was totally bemused at the thought that somehow this was my fault? and that i had some sort of control over my temperature? But on looking back maybe this was what he needed to tell me, as a Holistic Therapist there just HAD to be something i could do!

I had been teaching Colour Therapy for a short while, and the day before going into hospital i had gone around all the Asian shops and bought lots of coloured silks. I asked my friend (who came every night without fail) to bring me the blue, and violet coloured silk in the next day.I knew that the blue was supposed to lower temperature, and the violet was supposed to stimulate the white blood count in the body.I use the word ‘supposed’ deliberately as although i taught the subject i am sometimes not always convinced until i ‘see’ it work (always a bit of a doubting Thomas)

On the day that she brought the silks in i had been up to my usual tricks….. i was so desperate to get home and be with my boys that i would take one of the many fans that was around my bed blowing cold air on to me, and would turn it so tha it blew in my ear, hoping that when they took my temperature with the ear thermometer it would have finally gone down and then i could go home.Alas they always sussed it out, and would usually take it from the other side. She took my temperature and shook her head and said ‘sorry, but it’s still not gone down’ and walked off, and hour later my friend turned up with the silks.

I took the blue silk (that was over 6 foot in length) and shoved it up my nightdress, and with the help of my friend i covered my body from neck to toe with this bright blue silk. I knew it was best if it was touching the skin, and the texture of the cloth felt comforting. I carried on talking to my friend. Just before she went home the nurse came back and said she would take my temperature again.She did,and stepped back in disbelief as for the first time in 16 days my temperature had gone down! ‘Oh my God’ she said ‘i can’t believe it, it’s finally gone down…and whats that blue cloth that you have there?’she said, pointing to the silk.

I spent the next few hours telling nurse after nurse as the word got around about the Colour Therapy, and they all wanted to know more about how it worked. I continued to use both the blue and Violet silks, and was at home within 24 hours!!

Because of this experience i decided to research more into the effects of colour, and it applications in society, and started a journey that i will not continue through my Art as well as my Therapies.

Hope you enjoyed that long ,long blog?




This is one of the most amazing pieces of technology i have seen that addresses the needs of Autistic children, and helps them to learn and communicate by stimulating their senses with light, sound and touch – truly amazing, and if you watch and listen to the video below i am sure that you will wish that you could go into the room and experience it for yourself!

Is this not ART?? Is this not what it’s all about? not just some unobtainable image only accessible to some? Are we limiting ourselves by only producing 2D images in the same type of format again and again? Let’s just open our minds a little,as it’s amazing what the results of that can be – as seen below

Wow! i have found one at last!!…an exhibition in Australia where the audience is encouraged to touch and feel the art, as well as descriptions being written in Braille – phenomenal!! 

Read the article below from the website – of course the exhibition has already been and gone, but i wish i had been there to experience it! 

You can look, but make sure you also touch this art exhibition

23 November 2009 How could you appreciate a work of art if you couldn’t see it?For the thousands of Australians who are blind or have low vision, the activities that most sighted people take for granted can present big challenges. But now thanks to Vision Australia and Geelong Sculptors Inc. no-one will miss out.   

“Made to be Held” is a new kind of exhibition that encourages everyone to get up close to touch and feel each piece. Every exhibit is also displayed with verbal, braille and written descriptions ensuring patrons have a more inclusive experience.”Vision Australia is committed to overcoming any obstacles to full participation in society and is delighted to partner with Geelong Sculptors for this unique exhibition. The commitment of the Geelong Sculptors Inc. to facilitate this opportunity is appreciated by the blindness community,” said Anne Johnson, Team Manager Geelong, Vision Australia.  

“This is the third year that we have held this exhibition. Visitors usually flock from far and wide, even interstate,” she added.This year, the “Made to be Held” exhibition will open on International Day of People with a Disability on Thursday 3 December 2009. On opening night, the tactile sculpture called “Do Touch” will be unveiled. This piece is designed to recognise the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille who invented braille. The gift was made possible through an arts grant from City of Greater Geelong and will be permanently displayed at Vision Australia in Geelong.   

Geelong Sculptors was a worthy recipient of the Vision Australia “Making A Difference” award earlier this year which recognised their contribution towards improving the lives of people who are blind or have low vision

I feel so passionate about the fact that art should be accessible for all, not just for the visually able! How sad it is to see Art Galleries set out with most of the paintings on walls, often behind glass – but very much out of reach? I respect the fact that not all Art can be viewed and experienced by a visually impaired person, but i feel that there should be more places/venues catering for this sector of society, as well as many other disabilities, and also that they should be incorporated into everyday exhibitions rather than standing out as being something catering for the less able.We do so often highlight and disable people in our society when we need to be more inclusive. Also why do we think that the only way to view art is through the eyes? what about our other senses? To touch a piece of art, to smell it, to hear it…and maybe even to taste it (although not sure how that one would work) would be amazing!

For those of us who are blessed with sight maybe we could close our eyes for a while and journey around the exhibition ourselves, heightening our other senses as we remove the distractions caused by the critical eye?

I will endeavour to look into this further to address this issue.I am interested in textured inclusive art, but may also look into incorporating light (as some visually impaired people can recognise light) the use of colour, smell, and sound – in the hope that i can address the imbalance in equality, and the noticable discrimination some disabled people must feel.

I think this issue will become the main focus of my professional development practice, and something i will work on over the next three years i am at uni.

The image below is of an interactive art piece , which looks great fun!

taken from

Interactive Art that can be enjoyed by visually impaired people

How refreshing to see that there are people who are making great changes in this area already such as Blind Art.

The following was taken from the website –

“BlindArt is a charitable organisation based in UK whose aim is to encourage participation and interaction of the visually impaired in the sighted domain of the visual arts.
BlindArt promotes artists; both sighted and visually impaired, to showcase their work through competitions, exhibitions, fairs, shows and private commissions.”

“The BlindArt Permanent Collection will be permanently housed at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), Hereford. RNC is a key player in European innovations in the teaching and training of learners with sight loss and the leading international Resource Centre promoting a range of services to people with sight loss and professionals working with them.”

'Touching Art,Touching You Exhibition,Royal Cornwall Museum 2008

‘The revolutionary contemporary art exhibition, “Touching Art Touching You”  launched its multi-sensory, interactive art experience at the Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, between 26th July to 4th October 2008. “Touching Art Touching You” is a fresh and unique concept on the arts landscape. The exhibition breaks through traditional hierarchies & barriers in the arts by actively encouraging all works to be explored through touch. By shifting the established rules of art appreciation from sight (look) to the sense of touch (feel) the gallery experience instantly becomes an intimate, fresh and liberating art experience ‘(

I was overjoyed to see the comments written by two people that had attended the exhibition as i think it says it all!!………

“Over throwing years of not being allowed to touch art. Quite mind bending”.
Exhibition visitor

“Felt nervous and excited touching the art. Taboo/freedom/liberating.”
Exhibition visitor

say no more?

Blind Light, an artwork by Antony Gormley Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London  

Comments on this interactive art installation by