Welcome to the website of Susan M. Coles, Artist & Arts, Creativity & Educational Consultant.

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I always get goosebumps when I hear that line from the song “Summertime”……
and I am sitting here humming the tune and thinking about a very lovely summer term with so many interesting things that happened to me. I will just write about two at the moment, more later.

Our north east network (NEATEN) winning a second national Big Draw Award was a really special moment. I set that group up in 2007 and hoped it would develop into a network group that were connected and collaborative….. and it has. Our realationship with Baltic (Centre for Contemporary Art) is important and very special, and to be involved with them through the CPD programmes, and then with Big Draw, has been inspirational. Big Draw also offers me so much in terms of support with the work I do as an Associate and just being a great team of drawing advocates. I couldn’t personally get to the Big Draw Awards in May, because I was judging the dot art schools competition, at St George’s Hall in Liverpool. That’s another great event to be part of, showcasing art from schools and celebrating the achievements of many, read their dotart blog about the day
So I asked Gemma Roche, Matt Hall, Paul Raymond, Anna Ramsay and Leanne Aldred to represent NEATEN and go to Hoxton Hall in London, to collect the award and to also run a workshop. We never do anything by halves so Paul’s idea of the two minute sculpture (inspired by Erwin Wurm) captured people’s attention when they arrived, and creative ways to use a blow up crocodile (and other “interesting” props) seemed to go down well. There is information online
and a really lovely video, with Gemma and Leanne, which I’m linking you to here:

A visit to Korea was another highlight of my summer term- this time to be guest artist at the North London Collegiate School (NLCS) on Jeju Island, an island off the coast of South Korea which is also a world heritage site. The school celebrate the Arts each year, with a very high profile and diverse Arts week. Read about how the UK NLCS sister school Headteacher values the Arts, at this link:

This opportunity for me, was was at the invitation of Hannah Cunningham (Deputy Head of NLCS Jeju Junior School) and, during our Skype planning meetings, I suggested we used the Big Draw as the focus of the work and explored the theme of STEAM. The journey there was easy and smooth and once I landed in Seoul, I then caught a bus to Gimpo airport and boarded a plane for the short hop to the beautiful island. I was given a very warm welcome by everyone that I met, students, and staff. The opening ceremeny gave all of us artists and Arts practitioners a chance to say who we were and what we wanted to achieve. The school is an attractive and well designed building, with impressive facilities.

The mornings were spent in the junior school, where, over the week, I had a session with every single class and teacher and/or teaching assistants. The project was the SELFIE GALLERY and the idea was to use Ipads to take self images and then choose one to turn into a continous line drawing within a printed template of an Ipad. This type of drawing takes away hesitancy and is more challenging, another challenge was that no rubbers/erasers were allowed. You should have seen the incredulous looks on their faces when I said that! By the end of the week we had created a huge pile of these and I do believe that NLCS Jeju has made the biggest selfie gallery in the world. I couldnt fit them in my suitcase, so they remain in the care of the junior school. I am hoping that they will register now for the Big Draw and promote the work done in Arts week, but also to enter the activities we did for the 2017 Big Draw Awards. My whole experience in the junior school was made even better with the support of the art technician Miss Jinn and the very enthusiastic teachers. I was pleased to see the drawing days pop up in their own blogs.

The afternoons were spent with the senior school students, they all opted for different workshops, so I had different groups of students each day. We were based in a light and airy space called Halla Square. The first two days were spent looking at how tape can be used to make drawings, with a particular refrence to Jim Lambie’s work, and we explored circuit boards as shapes as this was a connection to the Big Draw STEAM theme. I encouraged them to be creative by using the walls, mirrors, floor spaces and anywhere we could find a possible art making angle into to. This was very exciting to see develop as I didn’t know how the students would react to a more conceptual starting point, but they did and the results were excellent. The fact that many people passed through the square in their general movements about the building brought a constanly changing and interested audience into the spaces. One group re-created the Big Draw STEAM logo onto the windows, which by sheer coincidence, had been designed by a South Korean graphic designer.

There were two more afternoon projects- the drawing machine challenge where they had to work in groups and use scrap materials to create a drawing machine (powered by the human body) which then made an indirect mark on a piece of paper. We looked at the work of artists Leonardo da Vinci and Rebecca Horn as inspiration and reference. This task required collaboration alongside creativity, and proved to be fun and popular with them all. The end part where you take your “machine” along the catwalk is always the best- and everyone did make their mark. The last afternoon was interesting because I had used so many materials up and didn’t feel I was in a position to ask for more (Hannah had already gone to the ends of the earth to provide me with everything I needed), so I decided to do a recycle drawing project. Firstly, we braved the heat and went outside to make quick sketches of small trees. Secondly, we retreated indoors and I gave each group a ream of A4 paper and asked them to re-create a large tree on the floor space. Everything had to be done by tearing, folding, scrumpling paper and “glued” by just bending sellotape. And, do you know what? I’d never done this before so it was risky, but the result was visually stunning. The little detail of the folded leaves and the origami birds were beautiful.

I was quite sad to leave Jeju at the end of the week, during that time I had also attended concerts, watched performances, met such a range of diverse people, went to a pop up restuarant meal (gorgeous), visited the senior school art department (impressive), as well as working with everyone in the junior school over the week, from nursery through to year 6.
One of the senior school boys said to me “You’ve made me see that drawing can be outside of a piece of paper and that’s a new thought I will take with me from this week”

The closing ceremony was a chance to say a big thank you, and I can share with you the words from my short speech:
“Before I say goodbye I’d like to say thank you- to the wonderful staff and students of this school who have given me such a warm welcome and allowed me in to make art and do some very, very different types of drawing. In particular I would like to thank Miss Cunningham without whom this would not have happened. Every day has brought me new faces and people and I am so pleased to see you all rising to the challenges that I gave you.
I leave NLCS as a happy person who has been blessed with your great kindness. I leave Korea with the most positive memories which will last me for a lifetime. Thank you so very much and may I wish you all a happy and fun summer break.

I would like to end with a quote from Maya Angelou- Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away – and that’s what Art, Dance, Drama, Music do for us.”

The slideshow that I made for the closing ceremony can be viewed here, and you will be able to see some of the images from the week. It was a great experience for me and to be able to spread the Big Draw experience yet again, in a far off country, was a pleasure and a privilege.



2810 days ago

The Big Draw is such a great opportunity to break down barriers in drawing- enjoyed your examples very much.


2806 days ago

great that you visit our school and I enjoyed all the tapes drawings with you and my class friends. Thank you.


2757 days ago

Are you attending INSEA in Korea next summer Susan?
I would like to meet you very much.

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