Words by Rachel Tillett
The Blue Room is an award-winning arts service for people with learning difficulties. The group runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week and consists of 29 members. All the sessions revolve around making art work in response to exhibitions held at The Bluecoat Gallery. Members sketch and share ideas based on The Bluecoats changing exhibition programme; which provides plenty of inspiration.
One work which stood out for me was the piece in relation to the I Exist (in some way) exhibition. The collective piece was made by 10 members of the group and consisted of portraits in response to Boushra Almutawakael’s photographs of Arabic women dressed in traditional powerful costumes. The Blue Room portraits involve members holding handmade props to represent elements of their personality. The images portray confident and empowered personas of a select few members of the Blue Room, which is a heart -warming and uplifting sight, as you really get to understand the pleasure they have towards making artwork.
It was evident to see that the current Soft Estate exhibition had interested and inspired the Blue Room group significantly, with large amounts of work being produced in response to it. Located in the centre of the gallery, the Blue Room had made ghostly cyanotype prints of plants found in the Bluecoat’s garden using photosensitive paper to capture their silhouettes. The series is minimalistic and very striking. Motivated by the Soft Estate exhibition the use of leaves taken from a garden in an urbanised space, really links in well with the context of the current exhibition.
Although the selection of work is small, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit. The Blue Room offer fantastic support to those with learning difficulties, and it showcases the amazing talent that the group have. A sound track and video plays throughout the exhibition explaining what the Blue Room are about, and this alone deserves recognition as it offers voice overs and personal stories from members of the group. Overall, a brilliant and unique exhibition which is a must see.
The Blue Room Exhibition at the Bluecoat will be on display until 2 March 2014.