Wish you were here - Weymouth deckchairs
The Weymouth Deck Chair project was part of the 2012 Public Art Commissioning Plan, which was developed especially for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Events. Public Art is not only about making new sculptures, or contributing to architectural projects, it can also engage local residents in the design of ‘their’ place. The brief for the artists was to engage the local community in the design of 500 unique deck chairs through art workshops and to create a colourful, eye-catching installation on the beach.
The themes of architecture, beach and coast were chosen and developed by the lead artists Heather Parnell, David Mackie and Becky Adams. The themes needed to be open enough to appeal to everyone and to generate a variety of images and yet look good together as a 'family' of deck chair designs. Everyone who created a design was given freedom to interpret the themes, and the artists created a colour palette for each theme to help create a visual link between the diverse images produced.
There was an enthusiastic response to the announcement of the project, with all workshop spaces rapidly filled up by groups ranging from nursery school children to senior citizens and whole families signing up for the Saturday sessions. In all, 36 workshops were delivered involving approximately 430 participants of all ages and abilities. There were Saturday workshops at Weymouth College open to individuals and families, and workshops with established groups in the borough - St Anne’s Church Art Group, NACRO young parents, Weymouth Art Group and the Ridgeway Centre. We could have filled the places for schools three times over, but the lucky classes that took part were from; Radipole Primary School, Holy Trinity Primary School, Southill Primary School, Bincombe Valley Primary School, Budmouth College, Wey Valley School and Sports College as well as students at Weymouth College.
The workshop activities included drawing, painting, collage with paper and fabric and hand stitching. The workshops that took place at Weymouth College benefited from the additional expertise of art lecturers Sandra Stalker and Kim Edwards and the resources there enabled participants to have a go at printmaking (linocut, screen-printing, mono-printing) and machine sewing.
Thousands of images and designs were generated and it was not possible to include everyone's work in the final set of designs for deck chairs. However, the artists took great care to select and include a good cross section of material in the final designs, either as individual images or as composites of several participants’ drawings, prints or textiles.
The deckchair designs have been professionally digitally printed onto cotton fabric and sewn double sided with the background colour continuing onto the back of the deckchair so that the colour palettes can also be appreciated from the Esplanade.
We hope that all local residents seeing these deck chairs on the beach will feel as much pleasure, excitement and pride as felt by the participants during the workshops. The comments we received were almost unanimously complimentary and included:
“A very good experience with super tutors. Thank you”
“Loved working with my children, we all had a great time.”
“Linocut printmaking – my new career.”
“It was awesome and cool and I learned something NEW.”
“I have learnt how to sew properly.”
“Thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was good fun.”
“I loved it!”
A catalogue was printed as a permanent record of the project and is available for £3 from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.
The project was funded and supported by the Arts Council of England South West, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, Weymouth College, and Weymouth and Portland Partnership.
The artists created their own blog for the project at http://olympicdeckchairs.tumblr.com/ and the project has also had lots of publicity and media coverage including the following: