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Merry-Go-Round of Art and Ideas

For the final collaborative stall, Anne (ValleyKids) and I thought of making a carousel that could depict images of artworks that are at Tate Modern. The activity would be for participants to find these artworks within the collection, then come back to the carousel to write a review/critique about them to add to the carousel. We hoped that this activity would facilitate further exploration and discussion about the art collection at Tate Modern.

We first envisioned sourcing art works that relate to the carousel seats. So any art pieces that depict horses, pigs, zebras, tigers, unicorns, dragons, aeroplanes or cars. After sourcing what artworks we would use, we would have then got a number of postcards with these depictions on, to hang on the perimeter of the carousel for the duration of the week. As these postcards will reflect the artworks in the collection, participants can go and find them and then come back and hang their own comments up of the artworks seen. Moreover, the artworks in the postcards will feed into the 'Slowly-Go-Round' tours, another stall that was planning to take place throughout the week, in which we planned to end the tours at the carousel where participants could then add their comments.

However, after enlisting the help of the curatorial team at Tate Modern, we were informed that there weren't many artworks within the collection that related to carousel seats (if any). Therefore, Anne and I had to rethink the idea behind the carousel. Instead of hanging up postcards that depicted images of artworks from the Tate Modern collection, we thought of using Tim Etchell's postcards. Tim created these postcards for participants to use as instructions to interact with the art at Tate Modern. As Anne and I still wanted to invite participants to contribute to the Merry-go-round with a comment about an artwork from the Tate Collection, current exhibitions, events, or workshops, we were thinking that utilising Tim Etchell's postcards would still enable us to do this without directly referring to any specific artworks. By doing this, we could still form a link to the Tate Modern art collection, and encourage participants to enact Tim's suggestions. From which, they will still be encouraged to think about their experience by writing it down and then hanging it up in the Merry-go-round.

For the making of the carousel itself, I suggested using a side cantilever parasol so that participants could access the underneath without any obstructions (such as the middle pole). Inspiration for using a side cantilever parasol came from the side cantilever umbrellas I created for the leisure zone in LEPIII. Conor and I needed full access underneath the umbrellas, as we positioned recliners underneath so that the participant's head would be in the middle. I designed the umbrellas so that they rotated different mock capitalist adverts.

Photographs 1-5 depict a side cantilever parasol being used for shade over a hot tub. We were able to borrow a side cantilever parasol, and Jess and I transported it to the Valleys to work with Anne on designing the carousel. Photographs 6-17 show the designing process of the carousel. Anne had purchased a multicoloured parachute that we fixed onto the parasol frame. Photographs 6-12 show a clear depiction of the whole of the installation, during this stage, I found that I liked the idea of keeping the parachute hanging over the side frames, so as to create an enclosed space underneath the parasol. This idea reminded me of Installation Not One/To Be Two, used in the LEP series as an enclosed safe space within the totalising space of the institutions it has been exhibited at. I began thinking that the carousel could also offer an enclosed safe space within the totalising space of the institution that is Tate. However, we were aware that the parasol didn't have a far reaching frame and so wouldn't be able to house many participants at any one time. Also, the parachute sides hanging from the side frames would need to be draped and sewn in the style of the carousel sides/drapes, of which would then take away the length of the parachute so it wouldn't touch the floor. Therefore, we decided to stick to the original plan and keep the parachute for the roof of the parasol and side drapes.

We then began to attach ribbon and red string to the underneath of the parasol, with wooden pegs tied at the ends (see photographs 13-17). This is so participants can hang their contributions using the pegs. The idea behind using red string was a reference to a discussion I had beforehand with my primary supervisor about the phrase ‘the guiding thread’, used by Marx in the Preface to A Critique of Political Economy (as translated in the version used by McLellan in his selected writings).

After this designing process, we then decided that it would be safer to use a round parasol with a weighted base (with the pole in the middle). As we discovered whilst working with the side cantilever parasol that it would need to be drilled into and secured to the ground, as we didn't have enough weight to secure it at the side base. However we didn't have permission to drill into the floor at Tate, and we did not want the side cantilever parasol to fall over. So Anne offered up her garden parasol, which already had a weighted middle base.

We then began looking into battery powered display stand rotating turntables that we could use to place the parasol on top, in order to create a rotating carousel effect. Unfortunately, this was an expensive and time consuming option that we couldn't afford to pursue.

After our visit to the Valleys, Anne and her art group took over the designing procedures for draping the parachute, attaching it to Anne's garden parasol and attaching the colourful lightbulbs and ribbon/string/pegs.

*Photographs 1-5 were taken on 10th February 2017. Photographs 6-17 were taken on 18th February 2017.

The Merry-Go-Round-of-Art-and-Ideas at Tate Exchange (12-15th April 2017):

The Merry-Go-Round-of-Art-and-Ideas was a permanent attraction at the Fairground throughout the four day workshop. It gave a fairground feel to the space upon entry to Level 5 as it was positioned near the entrance. As well as inviting participant contributions about art, the carousel also became an additional way of capturing evaluations and feedback from participants of the fairground. Photographs 18-26 depict some of the participant's contributions.

Some challenges that were faced during the making of the carousel were: making sure that the parachute used as the canopy for the carousel was made fire retardant and that the lights used for decoration were plastic and battery operated for health and safety reasons; making sure that the ribbons used for the responses to be added were short enough to be out of reach of young children; and the base of the parasol had to be heavy enough to support the extra weight. One challenge that occurred during the first day of the Fairground was the use of the Tim Etchell postcards. Even though permission had been granted to use them, this information had not been shared with the staff on duty and we were asked not to use them. As we had not expected this we did not have alternative cards ready for people to write on, however we quickly sourced some card and paper and cut up postcard-sized pieces of card for use. A conversation was then had clarifying our permission to use the Tim Etchell’s postcards and we were able to use them later on that day.

Below is the signage used for The Merry-Go-Round-of-Art-and-Ideas at Tate:

"Contribute to the Merry-go-round with a comment about an artwork from the Tate Collection, current exhibitions, events, or workshops. Write a description, review or critique and detail where others can find it.

You can also respond to other contributions by adding to them or offering a different perspective – but no hate sticks or swearing please!"

*Photographs 18-26 were taken by Jason Pay on 12th April 2017. Photographs 27-28 were taken by Jason Pay on 14th April 2017.

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