Inside the Creative Mind: My city out there

28 June 2013

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Artist Elaine Duigenan is working with young women at New Horizons Youth Centre. She has devised and is running a series of six workshops that explore connections with works in the current Wellcome Collection exhibition, Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan. She’s writing a series of blog posts to relay some of the ideas and outcomes in words and pictures; here’s the fifth.

I was looking forward to this workshop as planning to do something based around the beautifully complex drawings of Norimitsu Kokubo.

Following the exhibition themes, I wanted to open out the focus from self to environment and look particularly at the context of our city.  I have always loved maps and the correlation I could see between say the markings of Toyo Hagino and the linear configurations in an old A-Z map book of London.

In preparation for the workshop I went to Holborn Tube Station to find out what happened to all the tube tickets that get inserted in to the barriers.  Ten minutes later (and a somewhat puzzled station manager) I had my bag stuffed full of as many tickets as I could carry.  These formed our starting point as we examined where someone had started a journey and where they might be going – it prompted a lovely discussion about travels and ‘home’.  We hole punched the tickets, wrote on them and stuck them down on a large map so that other place names showed through the holes.

Next we got translucent paper and drew landmarks real and imagined in the style of Kiyoaki Amemiya and placed these on the large map, again eliciting discussion about origins and family. J is from Leicester and she told us about her family and some of the difficulties she has experienced.

Easily the most enjoyable and interesting activity was when we chose and tore out sheets from the A-Z.  I showed some examples of how one could use highlighters to fill in certain configurations of streets or felt pens to colour in areas of parkland, sewage works, and landmarks.  It was one of those pleasurable tasks that we literally got lost in.  Someone described it as meditative and another was reminiscing about colouring books when a child.  It was a simple task that rendered beautifully individual approaches that surprised and delighted.

Souzou runs until Sunday 30 June. Find out more about Elaine’s work at