Monday, 26 September 2011

Firstsite - First Impressions


"Did we pay to come here?"

"Why is that naked lady covered in paint?

"Can I keep it?"

"Is that another soup can by Andy Warhol?

Soundbites (from the mouths of babes!) at the opening of Colchester's brand new art space - Firstsite

The building has no foundadtions and sits on an Ancient Monument Site.It sits on 24,000 tonnes of hardcore recovered from the demolished local garrison.

20 plumbers were hired to lay 20,000 metres of TECU Gold cladding. This covers the building and in the sunlight  was quite an awesome first impression.

The light and airy entrance hall was dominated by one of those classic "Oh no! the cleaners have 'tidied it' works of modern art. There were 2 large fingers, lots of moulds, art materials and bits of junk. We made our own stories up about severed fingers, axe murderers and Queen Boudica. Later we found a help leaflet. My impression of this art would have been so different if I'd read it first. The piece is part of a work in progress by Danh Vo titled 'We the People'. He has been making a full sized copy of The Statue of Liberty and he's doing it piece by piece and leaving it in galleries all over the world. Now that's original!

I felt a bit wobbly as we walked around the curved walls, the floor seemed to slope as well and we kept veering to the edges. Weird. Why would you have curved walls in an art gallery? The space for hanging art was extremely limited. There were 4 small galleries with very little in them.

I completely missed the Henry Moore. I think I was expecting a smooth, giant sculpture of epic proportions perhaps in the 'D'shaped garden. It turns out the few rocks in a case were the inspirations for those more famous sculptures. To be fair, there were also two 'Helmet Heads' which I suppose linked to Colchester's military history.

Speaking of links to Colchester and yes I completely missed this one (again) was the screen print soup can by Andy Warhol.The boys recognised the artist and quickly moved on to the body-painted naked lady photos nearby. It was 'Oyster Stew'. Well done to the art gallery for getting this one. Colchester in Essex is very famous and has been since Roman times for it's annual oyster feast. Can't stand the things myself!

Having swiftly moved though the galleries we found the teaching area and the boys quickly gathered up drawing materials and paper to design dinosaurs. This gave us a chance to collect all the information that we had been lacking previously. It all began to make a lot more sense. There was a great booklet for families and also bags of objects  for them to take on their journey around the gallery. Maybe next time!

We were drawn to activity on the lawn after this and the sun made for a very arty, relaxed atmosphere. The boys made 'art' using coloured tape and shapes of thin wood. They wrapped the tape around to create stripes of pattern that turned their long thin strips of wood into instant swords.

We enjoyed our trip and will be back for more.

There's a craft course that I quite fancy and the boys would like to try the Saturday morning drop in sessions and events over half term. We'll try the cafe next time too although will not forget the little cafe next door in the Minories garden. The bunting around the garden is really funky!

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  1. Very informative and interesting. Sounds as though you had fun.