Touchstones Gallery

I went to the Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale today as part of a trip with 33 Year 10s from my school. I wasn’t sure what to expect really – first of all I’ve never been in a TA role before (Teaching Assistant) and second of all I have never been involved with secondary school art education in any way shape or form before. Ever.

Thirdly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the gallery itself. Was it going to be one of those pretentious “Emperor’s New Clothes” type of place, or was it going to be somewhere that I could understand and connect with the works on display?

As it turned out, it was a little bit of both. One of the rooms we visited had an exhibit of works that reflected the changing seasons – “Four Seasons In One Day” – which was the type of art that I instantly understand and can appreciate the talent and skill of the artist, and was really good in my opinion. But the other two rooms we visited were as I’d feared they would be… We had gone to the gallery because the students have been studying the work of local artist who makes models out of bits of scrap and who draws inspiration from quirky and unusual buildings she sees on her travels. She met us at the gallery to do a talk with the students and to explain the background to another artist’s installation, “Sanctuary” by Rosa Nguyen.

Rosa’s installation was one of those “I can’t really see what I’m seeing” type of things – it just looked like a load of old twigs and branches on the floor interspersed with some handmade pots to me, but the more I looked at it the more I found myself responding to it, and I began to see a little of what the artist was intending.

This picture will show you a little of it:



Another view shows you a little more:




And this is where things got interesting and I found myself being inspired. The students were encouraged to make sketches and drawings of the things they could see to use in projects in the future, but as you may have gathered, my inspiration usually manifests itself as words and not drawings, so I found myself doing a pen portrait instead. It’s one of the disciplines we are encouraged to do as part of the Creative Writing course with the OU that I’m doing, and I was really surprised at how easily it came to me today.

I made some notes, and out of those notes I found the germ of (another) Haiku being formed.

My notes ran along the lines of:

Twigs in pots; leaves on deck; gaps, space, where do I fit? etc

But then it struck me that the painted walls looked a bit like a horizon – sea, sky, distance, gaps etc – and then it struck me that the “twigs in pots” actually looked like submerged masts.

This is the haiku I came up with:

Far in the distance

Boats below the waterline

Sunk by exhaustion

For saying I’m not a fan of these here haiku thingies, I’m getting into the groove of them now! Gobsmacked that a school trip of all things could prompt a burst of creativity within me, and not only that but I actually “got” an art installation without feeling that it was all a bit silly and that the artist was having us on.

Woohoo!! I’m either getting there or losing the plot altogether. You tell me!!


1 thought on “Touchstones Gallery”

  1. From someone who has worked in a contemporary art museum for almost 18 years, I am thrilled to read this post!! I love it when someone (like you) has a big Ah-ha moment. Your poetry is what art is all about – inspiring a reaction (especially a reaction that leads to more creativity!). Thank you for saying it so eloquently!


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