Four of us ran a workshop for 'Methods, Tools, Practices, Experiences...'

Online Workshop by Jack Thurgar, Jenny Pengilly, Sadie Edginton, Sylvia Morgado (AltMFA members)

Methods, Tools, Practices, Experiences: A Sharing Workshop on Taking Artist Development Online, Chisenhale Art Studios

On December 8th of us AltMFA members collaborated to run an hour-long workshop for the two-day online event, ran by Chisenhale Studios and Into the Wild. Lots of other alternative education groups lead sessions as part of the two-day structure. It was a brilliant experience, where we were able to meet and share experiences with others.

We'd like to share a bit of how we experienced the event, our workshop as well as list the activities that we led! led to share our ideas. The only thing we ask is if you want to try out the ideas, please credit us, credit the artist and credit AltMFA as this is our educational and art practice we are sharing with you, this is our work.


Workshop Title: What makes an artist (In Covid times)?

The four mini workshops were:

1) Where do you make art? Connecting Spaces and Practices (with Jenny Pengilly) Movement and objects - Show and tell exercise in front of zoom screen, using movement and participants objects, relating to the separate spaces we all inhabit and connecting them and expanding the space of the screen.

2) Sharing practice (With Sadie Edginton) a text based game using the 'chat' box on zoom to reflect and share practice key words, and swap and build new practice ideas to take on from other people's words. At the end each person makes a new set of words, and uses them to do something in the following week.

3) Calling yourself an artist - (with Sylvia Morgado) Materials - using materials from the home as art materials to explore how we value ourselves as artists, and the changing way we value art at this time.

4)  Local hiding places. If you were a kid, where would you bunk school? - (with Jack Thurgar) A writing, drawing and thinking exercise that aims to create a small window out of our studio practice to focus-in and meditate on a specific place. 

Mini workshop 1)

Connecting Spaces and Practices: Online Activity

Jenny Pengilly, Artist Educator

For the Into the Wild sharing session I delivered a quick 10 minute activity aimed at connecting people and their practices online by activating the physical space they're in through a kind of treasure hunt. From previous Zoom experiences in both workshops and hang-outs, people have expressed that sharing objects across screens and moving around in and off screen serves as a nice reminder of the physical presence of the people and spaces they’re inhabiting, full of smells, feelings, temperatures and textures. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to nose at the objects and rooms people are in and have found these to be useful prompts for starting conversations, sharing stories and finding out about other’s interests, tastes and practices.

To start the session, I held up a sheep’s skull to the screen and everybody had 30 seconds to find an object with some connection or association to it. Everyone quickly brought back different types of intriguing bones, books, a Felix the cat wall clock and an impressive red and yellow plastic T-Rex table light among other things. The next task was to find your own version of a magic wand in one minute. This could be interpreted as an object or tool you use often and helps to get making and the magic flowing.

Magic wands appeared in the form of a …


Pots of coloured pens

Electric guitar

A box of  shimmery watercolours that provide that special bit of pizazz


Plaster cast of the artist’s finger with sparkly pink mop attached on one end, representing their hands


Smart phone

Kenneth Smith's book on Uncreative Writing

Glass oil lamp to provide comforting light 


and more..

The next task was to find your version of a cauldron; an object that helps you concoct plans for making artwork, experimenting and cooking up ideas.

Cauldrons came in the form of …

Colourful post-its


Smart phones

Note books

Tin of tea


Scissors (possibly oversized?)

Essential oil diffuser- offering calming relaxation and different moods

Coloured pens

Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Smith

The Complete Stories, Clarice Lispector (Água Viva and The passion according to GH also suggested in the chat)

A mixture of analogue and digital methods, caffeine or essential oil mood changers and writing, collating and cutting tools and inspiration. Looking at the screenshots of everyone holding up their objects it's hard to tell the scale of some of the objects- is that a giant sized pair of scissors? Perhaps there’s another activity in that.

Other categories to explore could include...

Secret Friend; something that brings your reassurance, comfort or has a positive influence on you when you’re working. 

A Cloak; perhaps an item you wear that helps you to get in the work zone or an object or space that helps you get into a specific head space or role e.g admin hat, comfort cardigan, get-down-and-dirty overall, DIY den, duvet etc,

There could be other categories and it would be good to have a longer session looking closely at everyone's objects and talk about the reasons for their choice. Perhaps a close up demonstration of the object to the camera with questions and answers from the rest of the group, like art practice focused QVC?

Sadie Edginton

Sharing practice: Swap and borrow

Intro: This is a word - generation exercise/ game that will get us to swap and borrow practice elements from other artists to make up a new set of tools! Borrow someone else's practice for a day and see through their eyes! Where will it take you? Maybe you can start a completely different artwork or project?

Equipment Needed: Pen and paper, works best with other people, at least more than two others and has been designed to work on online communication, such as Zoom.

When we finish we’ll have six words each. Next to each item below, write down one word onto a piece of paper in front of you, write it quickly and don’t think for too long! Have fun!

  1. A Tool you use.  It can be literal or metaphorical
  2. A Material you’re excited by, or use
  3. A Colour
  4. A Word you like
  5. An Approach (to making/ practicing your art)
  6. The People you create for or work with… your audience

Now you should have 6 words in front of you.

NEXT: We’re going to type our words into the chat box (if you’re using zoom or you can write onto paper together if you are together) 


Sadie copy and paste into chat:


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat


Everyone writes down there tool word in the chat

“Calling yourself an artist”, mini-workshop with Artist Educator Sylvia Morgado

For  this 10 minute interactive activity I asked participants to use materials from the home as art materials to explore how we value ourselves as artists.  


l started by asking people the below questions: 

  1. Do you need a studio for your practice? 
  2. Did you keep working during lockdown? 

Most of the people answered no to the first question and yes to the second one. It was interesting to learn that even with all adversities, people kept on working during lockdown.  

Following it, I invited everyone to grab whatever materials they had at home to make a quick sculpture. From boxes to envelopes, objects, paper, pencil… It was ok to use scissors and tape, but no need to. As an alternative, ripping off the paper. The important thing was to be free and let the imagination flow.  I gave 5 minutes and asked people to share the results. I was impressed with everyone’s creativity, as you can see below!  


Participant’s works 

Collage that I made for my mini-activity 

Then I shared with the group my inspirations to do this workshop and showed everyone a mini-sculpture in clay that I made a while ago inspired by small sculptures by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti made during the war when he didn’t have a studio, but never stopped producing. I also showed works by Brazilian artist Jac Leirner and talked about how she was repurposing cardboard to make artworks during the lockdown earlier this year.  

Mini-sculpture in clay I made that I showed to the group inspired by small sculptures Giacometti 

I then asked another couple of questions: 

  1. Did your practice changed with the lockdown (as many people were not having access to a studio)

  2. What’s the value of working on a large or small scale and of materials if we repurpose them? 

No answers required. The idea was to have food for thought, questioning our own practices and how we value ourselves as artists. 

Workshop by Jack Thurgar

Local hiding places.

If you were a kid, where would you bunk school? 

A workshop focussing on hiding places, spaces away from authority and the public eye.

This is a quick exercise in imaginative thinking.

The workshop aims to create a small five minute window out of our studio practice

to focus-in and meditate on a specific place. 

Participants are encouraged to think like a child, reinterpreting the local area to find their own hiding place. Think about how it stimulates all senses. Describe its location and geography. Why did you choose this place for bunking?

As a group we will spend 5 minutes drawing a quick sketch and/or write a few sentences about the place from memory/imagination.

Participants then spend the last few minutes sharing back to the group.


Sketch by Michael Davies [workshop participant]