Circle Time – Work in Progress

Last week I wrote about finding the loveliest invite to join Circle Time. Yesterday I took part in Circle Time. It was a brilliantly creative day that got me quickly working on creative projects, discussing ideas and really thinking about how you can manipulate the creative process through exciting collaborations.

I wrote the words below about Circle Time during the Final Round of the day – during which we had 5 minutes to create a final piece. I think it sums the day up perfectly.

Circle Time Make1

Circle Time was the concept of Rosie Barthram and Becca Clark – aka Rbbc Projects. It took place in the Art Hub by the Sea in Kirkcaldy, which is essentially an empty shop that has been taken over for creative community use. The day started somewhat haphazardly. I found my car battery dead, so I had to rouse my sister and her boyfriend to help push the car out the drive and jump-start it in the rain. After a quick blast of energy it came to life and I dashed through the rain to Kirkcaldy to join the circle…

Circle Time Make a

The concept for the day was fairly simple, but it was fascinating to see how it developed. We began by each introducing a piece of work that represented our varied practice (designer, illustrator, artist, writer…) in some form. I brought three stages of Chaos to share with the group. The first Chaos was a paper-cut I completed on day 22 of my Fun a Day project, the second Chaos was a very quick paper-cut screen print completed on a beginner screenprinting class and the third Chaos was the more refined screen print I completed in Intermediate screenprinting class. As Tara commented – there is a definite progression from childlike chaos to adult chaos in the two screen prints.

Circle Time Make 22

After the items were introduced and discussed with the group, they were passed to the person on our right – then it was time to start making. So the first challenge was to make a working space and create a new piece of work that related to the item given to you by the person on your left – for Round 1 we had 40 minutes.

Circle Time Make 20

The item I had been given to start my process was two pieces of beautiful embroidery that Rosie had stitched. She explained that one of them had been limited to 3 colours due to using a limited number of threads she had found. She also explained that she loved how the embroidery changed the texture and feel of the material. What I found most fascinating about them was her incredible attention to detail and the patience she must have to keep them so perfect. I started by trying to stick with detail and purposefully used a ruler to cut out measured, straight strands of paper that I imagined could work as in some form similar to the thread in Rosie’s embroidery. However, after a while I had to break from the conformity and start to add in some more varied sizes and widths of lines.

Circle Time Make 19

I had set up next to the window and one of the items that I had thrown in my eclectic materials bag that morning was sticky back plastic. So I decided to make the sticky film act as my material, to which I could add the paper threads. So I stuck it up on the window whilst the work was in progress, before then mounting the finished piece on glossy paper to present to the group. This simple, practical method for collecting paper shapes in a pattern ended up being my main working method for the day. I think I have gained a new appreciation for sticky back plastic.

Circle Tiem Make 16

The first 40 minutes flew by amidst a flurry of pink, green and blue paper strands and I found that I was really happy with the final outcome from Round 1. Then we were back at the table, presenting the work we had just created – all the discussions being recorded on this impressive tape recorder. For Round Two of making – we relegated the original art work to a safe spot, then passed the fresh piece of work again to the person on our right to work from. Rosie had been busy writing a brilliant rhyme during Round 1 – which she had started to print using letterpress. But the time had run out before she could print it all – so the result was that she printed 3 blocks of the same text.

Circle Time Make 13

I loved Rosie’s rhyme, but decided I couldn’t work with all the words. So picked out 4 of the words that stood out to me the most:





I proceeded to cut these out as quickly as possible… Careful to keep both the cut paper word and the background bit that I would normally throw out. I couldn’t cut quick enough for this quick 40 minute turnaround… I had planned to cut many more versions of the word, but the time was ticking so I had to limit myself to 3 x throwing, 1 x out, 2 x best and 3 x bits. I layered them up on the sticky back plastic, again on the window – mixing up the layers, the words and the sense of the words a little.

Circle Time Make 7

Then it was back to the circle – to present work, record discussions, drink tea, eat crisps and again pass our new pieces of work on to the person on our right ready for Round 3 – which had been cut to quick 20 minutes. During this circle, we ended up having a really interesting discussion about how we all require to talk to people and find our quiet time at different points during our working day and during our creative process. This need varied both on the type of work we were doing, the environment we were in and even what time of day it was in our respective workplaces.

Circle Time Make 8

During Round 2 Rosie had been working on a short animation of heads with varying levels of hair – inspired by Becca’s sketches of each of us working in Round 1 (still with me?). The drawing above is Becca’s sketch of me in Round 1 sitting at my newly formed desk. So I combined the two elements, plus the words from my previous piece of work to create a self portrait highlighting my perceived ‘best bit’ – my hair. During the process, I also took polaroid photos of each completed bit of work I had created. These give a glimpse of the final pieces, but I will write a further post here tomorrow or you can pop into our exhibition opening to see them today.

Circle Time Make

The next discussion in the circle was much more playful – with self made instruments being strummed, games of pass the parcel facilitated by our own singing, lots of fun words and watching Rosie finish stuffing her quickly crafted diamond from Round 3.

I loved that Tanya had used the words Throwing Out Best Bits, which I had appropriated from Rosie’s rhyme to create a number of anagrams. I loved that for some people that throwing out best bits could also vary between Torso Twisting and Wish Institute, amongst many other combinations.  This was a really nice example of how we all played with the words in a very different way as they made their way around the circle. Once the discussions were over – again everybody passed their most current piece of work to the person on the right before quickly setting to work. Time was ticking on – we were on a schedule and decided to make Round 4 just 15 minutes long!

Circle Time Make 6

So 15 minutes to make something! I had to think and work quick. I had been inspired by the games in the previous circle, plus liked how we had discussed that although rough – they diamond Rosie had crafted was still beautiful. I decided to play with the idea of a diamond in the rough and made a visual game asking people to:

Find The Diamond

Which again was a series of paper cuts – this time with a diamond hidden amongst layers of other paper and shapes.
Circle Time Make 4

There was another quick circle discussion, before the final 5 minute Round 5. Then phew – it was over and time to make a speedy exit to get Tara back to Dundee to get to work on time.

Circle Time Make 10

This was such an energising way to spend a rainy Saturday. I think short quick sessions like this are always powerful for exploring ideas, even if you don’t come up with fully composed final outcomes. The work I produced, plus the work of others will definitely influence some items that I make in the future.

The progressive circle idea was brilliant as it forced you to add a new element to your work during each new round, to not be too precious with what you had created because after the quick making round you had to pass it on and start again. We were all very open in our discussions during the circle time and lots of ideas were bounced around, then we set to diligently work away on our own during the creative making rounds.

I think this is a really interesting manner of collaborative working, as it also meant that the final outcomes from everyone involved were all intricately linked – even if some were more directly visible than others.

If you happen to be cruising along the Kirkcaldy esplanade around 3pm today, you are welcome to pop in to our pop-up opening and take a look at the work. Otherwise, I will post more about the final pieces of work we created here tomorrow.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson


Leave a Reply