“My Chinese Whispers Story”

The first Lift the Lid session for the Moving Portraits exhibition was full of intense activity. The grey and rainy Sunday was a perfect time to be exploring the topsy turvy world created by following a journey of “Pass it on” with Chinese Whispers. So what was passed on?

With their ticket ‘to ride’ in hand, a constant stream of friends and families took as long as they wished to follow 4 simple questions relating to a selected portrait in the gallery. Returning to the workshop, the words chosen to answer the questions were whispered back and forth between each member of a group until the words were transformed into something more magical or mysterious.
These new words then inspired a surreal picture story to be created using drawing, words and collage, drawing upon the original portrait viewed in the exhibition. The next part of the journey was to swap portraits and then go back into the exhibition to try and trace the portrait which had been the source. One family completed the journey, but couldn’t find the original portrait before tea and cakes became an urgent activity to attend to. A communal Chinese Whisper snaked its way around the room from time to time, helping to maintain the theme.
The objective of the theme was to explore how an original piece of information can be changed as it is passed on or ‘ transmitted’, and becomes something which is a combination of the original memory of the word and what is perceived to be heard. In the same way each person will relate to different portraits in this exhibition according to what they think is being communicated and aspects which are personal connections or preferences. What would participants in the workshop bring to the exchange of visual and oral information?
Below are 2 different versions of the portrait of Duncan Alexander Goodhew
whose portrait was extremely popular.

These were just two of the wonderful ideas and art work which were created as a result. Other favourites were The Screen Tests:
A temporary gallery of these portraits, became physically ‘moving portraits’ as their owners removed them to take home or to reposition them. Parents, grandmothers and other adult members of the groups identified that it was a really positive outcome to see their children being encouraged to take notice of the details of a portrait and then use their memory and imagination to be creative.
The next part of the journey will involve taking the idea of shoes as interesting portraits of all kinds of information about an individual. Wearing and creating dance steps with individually designed shoes will turn them into…moving portraits…..Don’t miss this opportunity!
Posted by Ryan Coleman on Wednesday 9 February 2011