In a New Light had a three-day rope workshop held at West Buckland School. It involved demonstrating to three groups of Year 9 pupils the craft of knotting, but also how this craft can be used in fine art. We showed them two current exhibitions in London where rope or thread is being as a medium in their practice. These two are Barbara Chase-Riboud: Infinite Folds at the Serpentine Gallery and Magdalena Abakanowicz: Every Tangle of Thread and Rope at the Tate Modern.

The workshop was held by myself and Colin Byfleet. Colin went through the fundamentals of rope and knots with examples of the different rope mats he made while I gave a description and explanation of the In a New Light project.

The pupils were split into three and we began showing the craft. I had with me my rope-making machine and showed them how to set the machine up for twisting the twine into rope. To make the workshop more colourful, I used different coloured twine so that when the rope is twisted it has a colourful nature to it. After the demonstration I gave them the opportunity to make more rope for themselves and in working together they were able to make 2 more lengths of rope. Making the rope requires hand-to-eye coordination, memory skills, awareness and collaboration which makes it an interactive and engaging workshop for all abilities.

There were two other tables with an art teacher on one and Colin on the other. Colin was demonstrating a Turks Head knot in a variety of ways; whether flat or round or thicker or thinner. This knot can be made using your hand as a jig and wrapping it around the different fingers. On the other table, the pupils were practising hitching around a ring, half hitching on its own and a Monkey’s Fist knot. There was a jig made for the Monkey’s fist knot as it made it easier to insert a ball in the centre. I was able to guide the art teacher and pupils in learning these techniques and the more they practised with their hands, the better they got.

This workshop was a practical class that improved the pupil’s motor skills, learning from seeing and developing their communication in collaboration.

The college students from Petroc came to Barnstaple Museum to listen to a presentation by Ed Wild, Hester Berry and myself. We wanted this conversation to describe the stages and stepping stones each person made in their journey into the art and craft world. The students were then able to ask questions at the end. We left some time for students to walk around the exhibition to get an idea of the project in more detail and see the final art pieces that were created. We had positive feedback from the teachers and the students in this discussion.