Sketchbook Circle Weekend at BALTIC by Susan M Coles

The NEATEN (North East Art Teacher Educator Network) Sketchbook Circle residential took place at Baltic Centre for Contemporary art on 28th/29th October and the majority of people attended both sessions.

On the Friday night we welcomed everybody with a glass of wine and drawing activities, as we sat in the downstairs cafe at Baltic, gazing out onto an incredible sunset over the Sage Music Centre and Tyne Bridge, followed by the twilight twinkling lights of the famous Quayside and Mill Bridge. I facilitated the evenings drawing activities- we started with drawing our "lives"which really broke the ice when people paired up and shared. This was followed by a quick sketch of your partner followed by a semi collage drawing developed from that using facila features from a bank of images. We were served with delicious homemade soup and bread, and encouraged to enjoy another glass of wine. 


The final activity of the evening was to build a visual map of where we were and then indicate our own journey path to the event tonight. This was great fun (and also very educational for those who had never visited Baltic before.)

t was great to have the whole space to ourselves and work with partners and larger groups to get to know each other. When people had to show how they had reached Baltic, by running around the map, proved to be quite hilarious! 

On the Saturday we all had a choice of two of the four workshops on offer. Yvette Hughes shared her enthusiasm and experience of making zines and framed this beautifully within the context of making for pleasure and enjoyment. Her collection of resources are impressive, right down to the old typewriter and other novelty ways of mark making. Yvette also had the idea of us starting the day with a Saturday swop shop where we all exchanged ephemera to use in sketch books.

Meanwhile, Gemma Roche and Anna Ramsay were busy on their workshop which was about breaking the creative block barrier, with some shared work where the group used a variety of materials to develop pages which were then passed onto the next person. They created a pace for this which allowed much creative sharing to take place. After a simply gorgeous lunch, overlooking the River Tyne and the Quayside, we started the afternoon workshops.

Louise Clazey introduced us to encaustic wax techniques and encouraged people to recycle data records as part of this- destroy and create- from something we don't particularly love! The results of "art Data Anomalies" session were both diverse and very personal. Paul Raymond really got on board with the Big Draw STEAM theme, with his workshop on Weapons of Mass Creativity. Making projectile firing catapults to create a group artwork was the best fun I've had on a weekend for a long time! Art, Design, Engineering, assemblage and performance- all in one workshop. The final piece was a performance which all the group came along to watch. 

We ened the day with a plenary and feedback session before people packed their bags and headed off, some to their journeys home, some to their hotels and some of us just to wander around the gallery spaces as the sunset once again lit up the space outside. Baltic are partners to NEATEN and have supported us and Sketchbook Circle throughout, we have plans for NEATEN's ten year anniversary next year and will be creating more opportunities for artist educators to collaborate and create together and embrace Big Draw and Sketchbook Circl as part of that.


Thank you Baltic and Vicky Sturrs, Louise, Paul, Gemma, Anna and Yvette.