At the end of August there is an annual festival in Irlam with a lantern and fire show in the evening, and this year the theme was the Olympics, so for few days over the summer holidays, I worked alongside Fay Flatt, Arts Officer for Irlam and Cadishead, and Amy a youth worker, to create 2 lanterns based on Greek urns, basing the design and decoration on the original Greek Olympics.
I decided that the technical work of making the frames, realistically, given the time frame, needed to be done outside of the workshops themselves, so with some research, some drawing, some scaling up and a lot of white gaffer tape, I made the skeleton of the lanterns at the studio, so that the groups could finish off and decorate.
Two different shapes were made, and I have come to appreciate the deceptive simplicity of the proportions of the pottery of ancient Greece.
The next stage was to apply a wet strength tissue paper to the structure, this was the fun stage, and we spent the first 2 sessions with a group at Cadishead Hall. A weatherproof PVA was diluted 1:1 with water, as I had anticipated an uncertain forecast for the Bank Holiday Monday.
We had a further 3 sessions at Irlam and Cadishead College working with groups of the incoming Year 7 pupils who were in for an introductory week. Over the 3 days, they helped construct the framework, papered the larger urn, and decorated both lanterns with Olympic inspired motifs using silver and gold tissue paper.
The lanterns were carried on thick bamboo poles and lit up with some nifty LED torches secured to the framework.
The whole project was great fun, and I find there’s nothing like trying to interpret two thousand or so years of refined and subtle design with sticks and paper for providing an Olympic challenge.