Christil Trumpet at Papdale Primary

18 May 2007 in Orkney, Visual Arts & Crafts

A Year of Consequence

Artist MATILDA TUMIM looks back on Christil Trumpet’s residency at Papdale Primary in Orkney

OUR PAPDALE residency ends in mid May, and we felt that this would be a good time to look back on what we have achieved. We have worked with the children on three projects. Our main project has come out of playing a game of consequences with the children.

Papdale Trumpets workshop with primary twos - 2006

Pam Beasant, the George Mackay Brown Writing Fellow in Orkney, has written about us: “Christil Trumpet, as the name somehow beautifully expresses, is not just a collaboration, it’s more a collision and explosion of creativity, fuelled by the skill and passion of the artists. Matilda Tumim and Christopher Prendergast (whose names are a loose anagram for their alter ego) have done that difficult thing: translated their partnership into their work and transformed it.

“To call this an exciting collaboration is to understate it. These two artists are making something new, pushing and questioning each other, and going to a place where what they have made seems almost inexplicably wonderful. During their year-long residency at Papdale Primary School, they have inspired the children, through games of consequences and art workshops, to see how the good and bad monsters of the imagination can be validated, even celebrated.

“It’s a deceptively simple idea – enormous fun for the children, with an underlying seriousness of artistic purpose. And the huge, beautifully-painted canvases, achieved by the best of collaborative efforts, will be a permanent legacy. Games of consequences are by their nature unexpected. For Christil Trumpet, however, it can only be upward and onward. Whatever they do next, a new generation of art lovers will be open to the ideas generated by this deliciously surprising work.”

Spending twelve months working full time in a large primary school has been an amazing experience and we have had a wonderful and highly creative year

An Australian artist emailed us the other day to tell us that she has been inspired by reading our web blog to play consequences with a group of disaffected 16 and 17 year olds in the South West Peninsular, where she and her Orcadian husband live.

Detail from 'Consequence' , 243cms x 167 cms oil on canvas


For us this is an example of how broad the scope of our Consequence project is, and a reminder that it is not only a children’s game. Despite having worked with the game as a starting point we are only at the tip of the iceberg with the exploration of the ideas that are raised for us each time we play it.

Primary One are coming into our Papdale studio during the first week of the summer term – our last year-group of the residency. We are going to ask them to illuminate letters which we will use to create titles for the Consequence paintings. The titles come from the names children gave their Consequence characters before they were unfolded, names such as “Mr Scar & Mr Malink”.

The theme for the illumination of these letters will be the ‘Duckie’ (the large pond that occupied the site for many years prior to the building of the school in the 1960s). We started the residency with the oldest children and are ending with the youngest.

Over the year all of the children have been drawing on tags for us. We have about 2000 and will use them to construct a sculpture of a wave in our studio in Stromness. This second project, the “Pupils’ Wave”, will be set into a glass partition wall between the new rear entrance to the school and the new resources room so that it will be visible from both sides.

Our third project has been to create paintings that take their inspiration from fantasy ‘mini beasts’ that children in the younger year groups drew for us during workshops last year. We looked at art books during workshops and the styles of artists like Patrick Cauldfield, Jeff Koons and Gary Hulme can be seen in the five small paintings that now hang above a rectangular archway in one of the school’s corridors.

Our workshops at Papdale have been very productive and fun for all participants. The feedback from parents and teachers has been extremely positive. Here’s an extract from a news blog which gives a small indication of what the workshops have been like from our perspective;

“Chris is now studying the digital images I took of this week’s workshops and he says that many of the close ups of the P5 children’s drawings hanging on the tree have a Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ quality to them. We can also see how inspired these children were by the artists whose work they were looking at.

Detail from 'Consequence' , 243cms x 167 cms oil on canvas

“In several of the workshops the children asked Chris to tell them a story while they worked. He told them about Jeff Koons going from stockbroking to art and we showed them giant toys, puppies made of flowers, huge photo realist paintings of giant breakfast cereals in milk and he explained how some artists do not even make their own work but have a workshop full of technical assistants “Boy – but that’s just lazy” one boy commented while I assisted him by cutting out his drawing while he languorously turned the pages of an art book!”

As part of our efforts to record and evaluate the residency we have been keeping blogs on the news page of our residency website, and have also been putting our more ‘grown-up’ blogs on our other website [see links below], which we plan to update regularly again once the residency is finished.

We will be publicly launching the eight Consequence paintings as part of the St. Magnus Festival in June. The launch will take place on Saturday 23 June (2.30pm–5.30pm). It will begin with “Between the Notes”, an hour long concert with improvised responses to the paintings from London-based musicians, which will take place under the lightwell at the front of the school. There will be seating for 70, and tickets can be obtained from the St. Magnus Festival office or the school.

The terms of the residency were for the artists to spend half of their time developing their own work. We will be exhibiting this work at the Pier Arts Centre and at the Orkney Museum during 2007 and 2008.

Rik & Centaur Woman. Acrylic and oil on canvas - 35cms x 25cms - 2007

Our own work has surfaced more towards the end of the residency. Sources of inspiration have come from the children’s ideas and also from returning to old themes about rites of passage, roots and identity, and concepts of family life.

We are currently working on a series of vertical triptychs which have been inspired by fantasy plant drawings that children from P2 created for us during a game of Consequences on that theme ( starting with the roots and building up to the flower this time!).

When we return to our studio in Stromness in a few weeks time we will get a chance to digest the impact that working with so many children has made on our creative output. Spending twelve months working full time in a large primary school has been an amazing experience and we have had a wonderful and highly creative year at Papdale Primary School.

© Matilda Tumim, 2007