I wanted to further the idea of the bread men ‘talking’ and Ali in ‘Make’ came up with a bit of wizardry. First we needed to introduce something metallic so the bread man got a ring through his nose! Then I had to buy this small sound board which you can load the sound file onto and then connect it to a small speaker or headphones. Once its all connected up and a small battery added, whenever you touch the metal ring, it plays the sound bite!
Ali suggested I could get a bigger sound board and could theoretically have about ten bread men all talking.
Dundee University Mental Health Society
This was my biggest workshop to date with 15 participants. Apparently the places got filled up very quickly which was very heartening to hear. Everyone made dough and I took along some sugar, yeast and salt in case people wanted to take their dough home to cook and eat.
They were predominantly women attending with just two men. There were varying degrees of confidence and comfort with playing with the dough and a lot of interest in the beginning just playing with the flour and feeling its texture. I heard most saying that they hadn’t made bread before. This surprised me.
Shapes were hearts, plaits and knots and figures, one volcano and little loaves of bread. I got them all to make a fist and I love to see all the shapes people make , they are so organic like vertebrae. One girl said they reminded her of a foetus.
The general feeling in the room was light and fun and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. We took some photos which went on their Facebook page and some of the participants sent me some cool feedback.
Visit to the Bread Houses Network, Sofia, Bulgaria
Down a pot-holey road in a residential part of Sofia, there is a small bright and airy community bakery. They train local people, some with social issues, to make bread and work in the business. In another area next to the bakery is a workshop and training area. All day long , you have the aroma of freshly baked bread!
My 3 days in September were so inspirational that if I had any doubts before about the value of bread therapy, they are now blown away, as was I! My training was a mixture of learning about the Breadhouse network, their mission, experiences and goals for the future and working with the special needs group who came for bread therapy.
It was great to travel again and be part of another culture and community. Its refreshing and helps me focus on what’s important by seeing a much bigger picture. I sometimes feel quite isolated at Uni working on my bread projects so this has been good affirmation that the ideas and feelings I have about dough therapy are sound. I have learnt new techniques about bread therapy and not just that but also the career game and about setting up a social enterprise bakery, helping disabled people learn a skill and work in the community.
It has inspired me, invigorated me to meet other ‘changebakers’ especially Nadia, what a charismatic person. Her knowledge energy and enthusiasm, you cant help but be excited.
Workshop Session Summary
I have managed to do a few workshop sessions over the last two semesters with not only peers at college but also the wider community. First up Jonathan, Julie and I did an activity workshop day in the college for peers. People popped in throughout the day and it was just very casual and laid back. It was interesting to see out of all the different students that made dough that day, the girl that was a sculpture student was so natural and uninhibited when she handled the dough in comparison to others who took a bit of time to get going.
Next we ventured out to the Zoology museum at Dundee University. A fascinating venue and Hope managed to get a few victims for us to practice on. The dough shapes had a distinctly fossil like appearance. Below a Triblobyte!
The next series of workshops were a bit more challenging but also rewarding. We went to the Gilfillan memorial church for four friday lunchtime meetings which cater for the homeless and socially deprived people. They come and have lunch and then we invited them upstairs to the workshops. The attendance was very limited but the folk that did turn up seemed to enjoy themselves. Below is ‘owl pig’ which a lovely lady made after a quiet start, she really started to embrace the dough. The snout in the middle of him is actually one of my wee bread men – they get everywhere!! And the other photo is all the little fists of dough that we made which I then cooked and gave back to the participants. I like them, they are a unique print of the people !!
Lastly, I went to the Hard of Hearing group in Dundee. They are an elderly group of ladies who meet weekly. They were a lovely feisty bunch and made some lovely shapes and I loved the connections they also made about homelife, and being children remembering their mums making bread.
22nd February 2016
I had a dough making session with a Psychology student from the university. We set up a video camera to film just our hands. I also recorded our conversation and made a transcript of it.
It was fascinating to watch what she did with the dough while we were have a meaningful conversation. There were times when she was pushing it away from herself, breaking it up into pieces, layering it, and at one point she held it down very firmly with one hand and picked wee bits off with the other. She made one little dough shape, like a little snake, which felt fairly contrived but it was the other shape that was more interesting. While we were busy chatting , her fingers were digging into the dough, it was like she was exerting her authority, making her mark.
In her feedback, she said she felt it was a worthwhile and therapeutic experience. It was like ‘fiddling with permission’ and a great outlet for expression and a physical experience at a basic level.
Bread Man 20th January 2016
This bread man was made with a recipe called pate d’or, its modelling dough and has butter in it. It makes it smell very nice, like a pastry.
It holds its shape better and holds the marks of the artist. This was in the oven for about an hour with no intervention at all. The eyes and the mouth both subsided . It makes him look like he is in pain, got his eyes shut or is blind.
The surface is very smooth compared to the last bread man which was cracked, rough and uneven.
I cut into the mouth just after it came out the oven but I don’t like it. It looks contrived. I can put objects in during cooking to keep the eyes and mouth open. The last time I used some cashew nuts.
Dough Changes – January 2016
I was doing one of my HOWGOZITs in the New Year and realised, my direction is altering slightly. For a while now I have felt the ‘heap of dough’ was a bit problematic, the mound of dough was not really ‘cutting it’ for me or producing a shape I liked. Also the big heap of dough at the end of the project was going to be quite difficult to deal with so…… I was busy making dough in the kitchen one evening and I realised the need to make bread men is quite compelling! He’s there before I know it!
And they have been staring me in the face for years on my msn profile. They just come out of me, when I am making them I just ‘know’ when they are right or finished. I want to see what ‘bread men’ other people make……
So my plan is to do an in-depth bread session with one of my peers and try and analyse what is going on by filming and transcript and by getting feedback from them, how they felt doing it. Then have a session at uni with maybe 4 students, one-to-one, as part of an activity day with Julie and Jonathan.
One of the problems of working with dough and bread is the sculptures go mouldy. While this is sometimes desirable if it is to be part of the artwork concept, sometimes its nice to have a little keepsake so I am looking at ways of preserving them. Anthony Gormley used paraffin wax in his bed bread project, he dipped all the pieces of ‘mother pride’ in wax.
I am experimenting with various things:
- painting with artists varnish(photograph)
- car wax spray(aerosol)
- car clear lacquer aerosol(halfords)
- paraffin wax, dipping
- wax, furniture polish ( Hannants)
The effect of the varnish was interesting in that it gave some the look of ‘ceramics’ .
The first dough burning experiment took place up in Nairn on 16th November. It took a while to burn as it was still moist inside but it went in the end. Looked like roasted meat at one point and then just like charred wood in the end.
Video of the process
We filmed making dough with my iPhone. It was interesting to focus in on just the hands. Here are two videos on me and my colleague Craig making dough.
And heres two wee men that popped up… (as they do).
Over the last two weeks, I have started making dough with my peers at Dundee Art College and making a pile of dough at home , experimenting with dough with and without yeast and trying to get it into a mound/pile.
The pile with yeast was interesting.It had a nice puffy aerated feel to it and had some nice ‘tracks’ on it after 24 hours. But not good for making into a mound, very runny.
Next was just flour and water. Toasting it with a hot gun had a bit of success but in the end I had to put it in the oven and keep pushing it up into a pile every 10 minutes. It was very hot work, I was sweating and struggling with the dough but somehow it felt good, cathartic. Heres the first wee pile of dough:
This experiment now begs a few questions. Should I go back to making modelling dough ( made with butter) ? Do I need to make a central core of maybe chicken wire to support the structure as it gets bigger? On site toasting with a hot gun might not be powerful enough, I might have to get some sort of blow torch. Next plan is to make a pile of dough at college with students and find some expertise on getting the support structure.
The Big Dough Project
This is my project for this year and next. Below is my proposal form:
Title: The Big Dough Project
Artist: Sue Beveridge
Curator: Exhibition Department, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Dundee
Location: Edinburgh Fringe in August 2016, a free fringe venue
This installation is a combination of a social experiment and a mission to make a big dough sculpture. The project will run for a month during the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2016. It will be part of the free fringe. Ideally it will be housed in a semi-outdoor venue eg. Gorgie Farm is a free fringe venue with stables outside.
Twice a day, I will invite participants to make dough with me and have a chat about whatever comes up. ( This may be totally random or there might be props, pictures, items around to maybe lead conversation in a certain direction). At the end of the sessions, I will make notes on the conversations (with permission) and this will go on to be a further piece of artwork. Filming and stills will record progress and process. At the end of the dough making session, the dough will be placed in a pile which will grow over the period of the festival . There are various ways for the mound to grow. I imagine firing or toasting it daily to shape and stabilise it. There would be the option for participants to put objects in it, inside it, sticking out of it. They could also write comments, feelings on a piece of paper, knowing they would be burnt at the end. From previous experience with dough, firing it on the outside leads to some very interesting shapes ‘inside’ when you expose them.
At the end of the project, there might be a ceremonial burning. It needs to be brought to a close.
Rationale for this project:
- To make a big random dough sculpture
- To share a traditional, simple, basic, ritual of ‘making bread’, working consciously and unconsciously as we talk. Something fundamental, instinctual almost, archetypal.
- Through social interaction, provide an ‘experience’ for the participant that may be pleasurable (hopefully) but may also open up memories or start a process of remembering, making connections.
- To provide material/data for further artworks.
I am currently studying an MFA in Art, Society and Publics at Dundee College of Art. I studied sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art. I like to use dough as my ‘medium’ and have made a series of bread bodies .
“Dough is a lively medium to work with. It can be quite sensual, rolling and squeezing it, or it can be very cathartic thumping and punching it. It smells good. You can cook it and it can be quite unpredictable especially if you put yeast in it. Then if you leave it for a few weeks, the patterns, colours and textures of the mould are fascinating! “
Permanent space for the month
Undercover to keep participants and sculpture dry
Big door access open to air
Location to allow burning, fire precautions
Electricity, water, 2 tables
Capacity for sculpture, 2 tables, storage
£60 registration to free fringe
£295 programmed entry
accommodation/living costs/loss of earnings