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This was Summer School 2023!

In mid-August, the third edition of Graphic Matters Summer School kicked off. During four different masterclasses by prominent designers, a group of creative enthusiasts enjoyed an inspiring and fun summer. Around the theme Blow Up/Blow Out, the days were devoted to knowledge, design, experimentation and meeting like-minded people.

Economic ups and downs influence art and design. History shows that hard times can lead to frantic and lavish design. The four masterclasses took the concept of inflation as a literal inspiration.

Participants are not tied to one medium, making the masterclasses interesting for any creator. This results in a very diverse group of creatives: illustrators, typographers, spatial, fashion and graphic designers. Some of them are still students; others already have years of work experience. Participants came from all over the world – from Breda to Korea, from Bulgaria to England. These different backgrounds create a special and fun group dynamic in which a lot is learned not only from the masters, but also from each other.

“I really enjoyed talking to like-minded people and just sharing a space, some work, thoughts, and experiences.” — Filip Boyadzhiev

The masters talked about their practice, methods and sources of inspiration to participants and external guests during the Blow Up Talks. In the first week, KiteLab delved into the different stories, meanings and forms of kites and how he uses and deploys them in his own practice. Tools For Action talked about the history of inflatable art, architecture and activism in addition to the impressive projects the foundation has completed. In Week 2, Damien Poulain took the audience through his colorful practice and its varied projects – and Steve Messam delved deeper into huge inflatables and his unique and recognizable work.

“I loved being in a group for three days in a row. I got to know much about the culture and academic status in The Netherlands and found great friends who I will definitely meet again! — Nazgol Sobhani

 

Summer School week 1
The masterclasses in week 1 were hosted by Victor Guérithault of KiteLab and Bambi van Balen of Tools For Action: two totally different professionals but both overflowing with ambition and passion for what they do.

With the masterclass ‘Infinite range, zero weight’ KiteLab challenged the participants to design and build their own kite. How can an object heavier than air fly? With his knowledge of aerodynamics, color and movement, Victor brought depth to both form and graphic design.

The group was blood-fanatic – after a brief introduction about the possibilities and different forms of kites, they immediately set to work with ambitious plans. Sketching, thinking, testing, remaking, sewing, coloring, and finally, of course, flying! Many participants were working with certain materials and sewing machines for the first time, which also made execution a challenge. After three long days including a necessary final sprint, the beautiful kites were ready. Each kite totally different, but a perfect reflection of its creator.

“I loved coming every morning to share my experiences and find solutions for all the incredible ideas of the participants. I am very proud with the kites that have been created. From the point of view of the difficulty of some, but also of the creativity and graphics of others.” — Victor Guérithault (master)

 

In the other area of De Uitvindfabriek, Bambi van Balen (Tools for Action) worked with their group on the masterclass ‘Floating Assembly – Don’t forget your swimwear’. They brought a combination of inflatable art, architecture and activism to Breda. Participants were encouraged to come up with giant instruments, wearables, or other floating objects for an assembly on the water. Working with unusual machines and new material, participants were able to play, experiment, and ultimately realize their inflatable fantasies.

“To work with and learn from Bambi (Tools for Action) was a dream of mine.” – participant

After completing their own projects, the group created additional group works according to the D.I.T. (do it together) principle. De Uitvindfabriek completely filled with all kinds of colorful inflatable objects; ready to go into the water!

Will the kites be able to fly? Will we float? On the third and final day, both groups presented the results at BRACK. Like a big, colorful parade the participants left with their works through the streets of Breda. This caused the necessary glances, happy – but also questioning – faces and nice comments from passers-by. With some excitement, the Tools For Action group braved the water. Despite the fact that some inflatables turned out to be not so waterproof, it was an impressive spectacle with lots of laughter. The kites also took off, creating an explosion of color that contrasted sharply against gray skies. Results to be proud of.

Summer School week 2
Two other masterclasses started the following week. This time the honor belonged to Damien Poulain (FR) and Steve Messam (UK).

During the masterclass “Before the thought, there is the dream,” artist Damien Poulain let his participants create their own covers. Canvases are a means of conveying a message and can provide protection, make a statement or be part of a group.

Participants began by observing De Uitvindfabriek, then reflecting on it by painting on textiles. Only after this first assignment was completed was the final goal revealed by Damien: from the canvases, a garment was made to inflate (blow up) and convey (blow out) your personal inner world. This resulted in new techniques and ways of working, in which the participants had to shift gears quickly and learn to look at the work differently.

“The participants surpassed themselves and were able to create new artworks following each step of my course. Their responses are beautiful and creative” — Damien Poulain (master)

 

English environmental artist Steve Messam tackled it big. With “Bigger Than A House (Exploring scale with inflatables),” participants explored the scale of the real world by creating something bigger than a house. After a brief introduction about inflatables in public spaces, participants got right to work. Using only trash bags and tape, giant shapes were created. Because Steve’s work always involves a relationship with the environment, the group went out in teams in the Valkenberg Park in Breda in search of suitable spots. On the last day, all forms were prepared so they would fit well with the trees.

“I participated in the hope to get my creative flow back, and I did. It was a lot of fun, had a great time in Breda!” – participant

Damien’s group’s presentation took place at the site of the participants’ inspiration. The works varied from a poncho to a dress with wings. The final results of Steve Messam’s group were on display for a short time at Valkenberg Park. The huge red and white colored inflatables caused a lot of viewing. It surprised passersby and children also enjoyed the unusual shapes that moved with the wind. The sun came through, which of course made a closing drink in the park with the whole group inevitable – a successful last day of two weeks of Summer School!

Thanks to all the masters, participants, Keep An Eye Foundation, De Uitvindfabriek, BRACK, the photographers and everyone else involved for making this colorful edition possible. See you all next year!

 

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Anne

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