The Big Draw 2018: Play! - Artist commission, workshops & exhibition

Automata exhibition Keith Newstead v2

As part of the 2018 annual Big Draw Festival, and supported by our funding from Arts Council England, the Inspire Arts team commissioned local artist Emma Reynard and acclaimed automata artist Keith Newstead, to work on creating an original piece of work based on the brief of "what would happen if the circus visited the library!".

Throughout the summer term of 2018, Emma worked with groups from 12 primary schools across Nottinghamshire to explore this question through visual art workshops. The artwork created in these sessions was shared with Keith who took inspiration from the work and set about designing and creating a money collection box to form the centerpiece of the exhibition. 

The exhibition opened at Mansfield Central Library, with a preview for invited guests, on Thursday 27 September 2018. Guests included Sue Williamson, Director of Libraries from Arts Council England, and pupils from Asquith Primary School who took part in the school workshops and whose work also made up the exhibition displays. The exhibition was in Mansfield until the end of December before touring to Beeston, West Bridgford and Worksop libraries from January to June 2019.

Emma then went on to deliver free family arts workshops across 12 of our Inspire libraries, from 6 October to 3 November 2018, and worked with families to create their own fantastical circus creations.

“Today was excellent family fun”

“Fantastic creative session - thank you”

“Really enjoyable, nice to have a go at different learning experiences together”

A fantastic number of people took part in this project overall;

  • 669 pupils tool part in the school workshops helping to create the exhibition
  • 65 people celebrated the opening of the exhibition
  • 181 participants took part in the public workshops 
  • 310 people had a go at making a self-led 'Little Big Top' paper kits across Inspire libraries

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