Materials and Perception Masterclass

Anyone who visits the galleries here will find it hard not to get lost, gazing at the wonderful thread installations by Mark Garry. At a first glance they are barely visible, on closer inspection one might think that someone let a real rainbow loose in the room. The rainbow spectrums are just one of many wonderful elements in A Winter Light.

Materials and Perception a masterclass run by the artist himself took place last weekend. This explored a number of methods Mark Garry uses in his installation practice including the famous thread installations. I was lucky to get a last minute spot in the class and I would have been sorry had I missed out. Not being an artist, I was apprehensive about attending an installation master class, but being drawn to the exhibition I was also excited to learn and explore new skills.

Saturday morning began with Mark giving us a guided tour of A Winter Light. This was followed by a short presentation on some of Mark’s personal interests and what inspires him. These included videos of 1920s ballet Das Triadische and one of Mark’s personal heroes, John Cage

We then collaborated together to create optical illusion style art. In doing this, we learned the techniques Garry employs in his installation practice. Each of us were given pens to draw parallel lines down a sheet of paper. Once the entire sheet had been filled, we repeated the process with two new colours. Our finished sheets were attached side by side to the wall. We then selected strands of theads that complemneted the colour of the ink and pinned lenghts of them over the sheets. Doing this created an optical illusion effect. Learning the process of how the rainbow spectrums are created made me appreciate them all the more. Visually they are stunning but knowing how much work and care is put into them makes them that little bit more special.

In the afternoon we worked as a group on a larger installation using brightly coloured ribbon, string and fine mesh netting. In a lot of Garry’s work he uses every day materials in different ways; for example, thread to create the famous rainbow spectrum. We assessed the room and our presence in that space. As a group of ten, our installation grew and became dense with materials. Mark encouraged us to step back and look at it objectively before removing some elements to make the installation visually stronger.

Sunday morning began by folding colourful paper to form origami masks. Mark has used origami in practice in the past and there is an origami leaf in the current exhibition. The masks were later used by us for a performance piece about movement and shadows.

Throughout the day we made new installations using the same methods and materials from Saturday. We created our own individual installations before working as a group to create a simpler one which was the backdrop for the performance piece.

Materials and Perception was a new experience for me. I feel that the intention of the master class was to open people’s minds about installation art, what it involves and its processes. Through taking part in this I know I’ll look at installation art with a fresh perspective and I will appreciate it more.