Department for Doing Nothing host drop-in at new Studio 144 complex in Southampton

Date Created: 26th Feb 2018

NOTHING What does nothing mean to you? Thought bubble interactive activity with post it note answers around the question including 'meditating', 'watching stuff on youtube', 'sleeping', 'CBA' and 'daydreaming'

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On 20th February, the Department for Doing Nothing (DfDN) hosted a drop-in workshop in Southampton’s newly opened Studio 144 complex, home to the John Hansard Gallery and City Eye. Programmed by John Hansard in partnership with Artswork, Southampton Youth Offending Service, Compass School and In Focus Training, the workshop had a strong network of support.

At the beginning of the workshop, two large scrolls pinned up on the wall contained only the sentences ‘Nothing was…’ and ‘Nothing is…’ awaiting responses from the general public. By the end of the day, the same scrolls contained a range of colourful answers, from “nothing is sleeping” to more philosophical thoughts of “nothing is the essential nature of us all”.

The tables were filled with activities such as badge making, bag decorating, and t-shirt designing using ink paints and fabric pens. Whilst many of the young people participated in the badge making, one student decided to opt for bag making, printing the bold statement ‘I don’t like people’ onto her bag. Many passers-by timidly entered the studio, but after a warm welcome from the programme coordinator, Kristianne, they were well under way with paintings, prints and drawings of their own.

Surrounding the workshop were the exhibitions of artists such as Hetain Patel, Samuel Laughlin, David Batchelor and Rhona Byrne. The Fiesta Transformer piece by Patel particularly caught the interest of gallery browsers, with it overlooking Guildhall Square.

The day before saw an introduction about the new gallery opening for teachers in the local community. It included information on events that will be taking place and the facilities on offer to schools at the new John Hansard site. It also featured a talk on the origin and function of City Eye, a scheme set up to offer experience and outlets for aspiring filmmakers in Southampton. Furthermore, an introductory by Artswork to the Artsmark award was delivered to encourage attending schools to sign up, to improve their overall arts provision, which can now be complimented by workshops and opportunities for them and their students at Studio 144.

Whether nothing is lounging around, food shopping or watching TV, it is apparent that we are never really doing nothing. Even in a department dedicated to nothingness, art and creativity blossomed.

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This article was written by Meg Hockley, our new Artsmark and Arts Award Apprentice. We caught up with her to hear about how she came to work as part of the Artswork team in Southampton.

“I originally decided to apply for the apprenticeship here at Artswork because it had the word ‘Arts’ in the title, so it seemed like a work-based learning that related to my personal hobbies. Once I read about the charity and their function it seemed like something that was integral to the school curriculum and being creative and supportive of the arts, which was something I always wanted more of when I was at school.

I found it intriguing how Artsmark’s aim is to incorporate arts into the STEM priorities currently in education settings, in order to make STEAM. I wanted to be an advocate of this myself as a lot of schooling is focused on academic achievements and grades and not abilities within creative expression.

Once I attended the interview, I was even more drawn to the position after meeting the team I would be working with and seeing how welcoming and friendly they were, which I value a lot in a workplace.

The offer of embarking on an Arts Award seemed appealing too as it would give me a chance to infuse my hobbies of writing and sketching alongside my work-based learning at Artswork. Having any time to dedicate to that is great, let alone having the chance to achieve a recognised award.

I am looking forward to gaining administrative skills, especially within the community arts sector, as well as attending events and development days, inevitably giving me the chance to meet people involved within and equally as enthusiastic about the arts as I am.”

Find out more about Meg
Find out about our Youth Justice work


Arts Award Artsmark For 15 – 25 yrs South East Bridge Work-based learning Youth Justice

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