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Open Studies Students Inspired by the Elements



Originally Published 10 April 2003

Students from the Creative Writing Open Studies course were introduced to the works of Susannah Heron at the Mead Gallery last term in a joint venture that has inspired both the students and the Gallery's staff.

Kay Rainsley, who runs the Creative Writing course in Coventry and Helen Legg, Assistant Curator at the Mead Gallery, set up the initiative to bring different parts of the University closer together. The Elements exhibition of work by Susannah Heron, who is currently designing a piece of work for Coventry city centre as part of the Phoenix Project, provided the ideal opportunity to introduce the Open Studies students to the gallery.

Kay had asked students, many of whom are from Coventry, whether they would like to see the Elements exhibition at the gallery and produce a piece of writing on the exhibition.

"They were extremely interested and keen to do this," said Kay. "Sarah Shalgolsky, Curator, very kindly agreed to give an introduction to the exhibition and the students wandered around taking in the 'vibes'. We then regrouped for a cup of tea and a lively discussion after which the students made notes.

The following week in class the students read out their pieces of work, which the visit had inspired. I typed them up and gave them all a copy and passed one to Helen to share with Sarah."

This was the first time that many of the students had visited the gallery and all enjoyed the experience. There are plans for further visits for more "writing on the spot" sessions.

Kay felt that the initiative had benefited all involved; "My students had an enjoyable and productive trip to the Mead, Sarah and Helen saw some new faces in the gallery, the artist has some interesting feedback on her work and we can all look forward to seeing Susannah's new work of art 'in the flesh' later in the year."

Impressions of 'Elements' - Daphne John

First impression -. not for me!
Too stark; too black and white
Too disturbing to my eye
But then .... 'a black hole'
Or a magic carpet
On which I can fly?'

Some are too jazzy,
Upsetting my balance
With too many megrims
In an unstable sea
But ....molecules and lilies
Spotlights on the blackest night
Rippling water reflecting light

Original miniatures; delicate detail
A 'mermaid's purse', the grain of wood
Pebbles and a honeycomb
Floating filigree flowerhead
S..t..r..e..t..c..h..i..n..g.. my thoughts!

Elementary Questions - Joan Shipley

What on earth is this? was my first reaction to Susannah Heron's exhibition. Where were the pictures? - pictures expertly framed, organised in a pleasing way for the beholder.

How glad I was that I stayed and became part of the flow of Susannah Heron's 'Elements'.

It was however, the first exhibition that I have attended where a talk preceded the viewing, which leaves me wondering whether without it, I would have been drawn in in quite the same way.

Certainly I would have found the pictures within the intricate structures, as one did in the past while relaxing by a glowing open coal fire.

The one on the far end wall, I saw as the main picture seeming to depict the inexorable flow of life to eternity.

Around the walls fish shapes were ever present - frog spawn on the pond. Reading later - Susannah's balloons had been my amoeba. Elsewhere satellites hung menacingly over a dark troubled world.

I can't begin to explain why at one point atheism entered my feelings.

As I am becoming too profound for my own good, I will end with what Susannah said of her recent drawings for the series. I quote, "I make something then ask what it is".

The Open Studies programme offers a wide range of learning opportunities in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. Recognising that mature students often have work and family commitments the programme has been developed to offer daytime and evening courses and day schools. Courses are held on campus and in centres around the region. Open Studies courses are genuinely 'open' in that anyone with the interest to study can enrol, irrespective of previous educational experience.

Open Studies Students Inspired by the Elements
Open Studies Students Inspired by the Elements

More information is available from the Centre for Lifelong Learning website.