High Stile Projects is a community arts company based in the market town of Great Dunmow, Essex. Our mission is to connect people through art. In 2018 we devised Invitation to Play through a collaboration with artists Kiran Chahal and Tom Downing and library managers across nine libraries in Harlow and Uttlesford, Essex. The aim was to celebrate that libraries are vital community places for all ages. To do this we brought people together to make and play games. We thought it would be fun to explore the architecture and artworks in, or near, the buildings to encourage people to reconnect with their libraries and to look at them afresh.
The opportunity to take part in one of Art UK's Sculpture Around You projects allowed us to devise new games inspired by some wonderful sculptures found connected to or around the libraries.
High Stile Projects is delighted to offer a free downloadable version of this new card game Sculpture Counts, and to share ideas on how to make your own versions of the game Matching Pairs.
Harlow is the UK's only Sculpture Town. The town has over 90 public sculptures and it currently has five libraries. The historic towns in Uttlesford have a lovely range of old buildings but surprisingly few sculptures. They wanted to devise a game that could make the Harlow collection better known outside of Harlow, as well as allowing families to explore art on their doorstep. It was decided to create a card game, inspired by the popular game of Top Trumps. This game is particularly enjoyed by children aged 6 to 9 years and their parents and grandparents. They invited Brownie units in Harlow and Great Dunmow to get involved in selecting the sculptures that would feature in the game. Over a series of workshops, the children discovered more about specific sculptures and created new games of Matching Pairs.
Working in their Sixes, the Brownies were given photos and some facts on 50 different sculptures from Harlow and Uttlesford that were closest to the libraries. They had to discuss and agree which artworks they wanted to include. The Brownie leaders commented on what a good exercise it was for the girls as they had to come up with their reasons for liking or rejecting pieces and be prepared to argue for their choices with their friends: all done in a good-humoured way! One leader said 'it was interesting that the girls tended to like the more modern and abstract sculptures but the adults favoured the more traditional pieces.'
Although in Harlow it was easy for the local Brownies to see the real sculptures, a special outing needed to be arranged for the Dunmow Brownies so that they could see the sculpture Darling Daisy by artist Anne Schwegmann-Fielding, in the Gardens of Easton Lodge, located three miles from the town.
I first met Anne when she worked at the Gardens and she helped raise the funds from Arts Council England and Essex County Council for the commission of the sculpture. It was the experience of working at the Gardens and with artists like Anne that led me to form High Stile Projects.
Alongside workshops with the Brownie units, we arranged exhibitions at Dunmow Library and library visitors were invited to cast their votes for the sculptures they wanted to feature in the card game. There were some lovely reasons people give for their choices including 'because it is awesome' and, 'there's attitude and I'd want to know the story'.
On 12th October 2019 High Stile Projects presented our annual 'Drawing In Dunmow Big Draw Day' at Dunmow Library as part of The Big Draw festival. Essex-based artist and sculptor Nicola Burrell was invited to run workshops on the day. Nicola has works in the Harlow collection and her sculpture New Town was selected to go in the game.
A pilot version of Sculpture Counts was played at the Dunmow Big Draw Day and at a workshop with the Harlow Brownies at Tye Green Library in November 2019. The Brownies were delighted to see sculptures they knew and loved in their home town featured in the game.
The feedback from the first version was a request for more information on the artists and sculptures. These changes were made and the cards were designed by artist Kiran Chahal and Steve Parker from Just Us Digital. The completed game features 30 contrasting sculptures by 30 different artists. Some are well-known names like Barbara Hepworth, others deserve to be better known. The game is now ready to be downloaded and played at home.
Another game you can easily make and play at home is Matching Pairs. As part of our 'Invitation to Play' programme artist Kiran Chahal came up with the beautifully simple, but very effective, idea of getting participants to make the game of matching pairs. She wanted to show the impact of learning new skills, sharing these with others, and taking forward skills and ideas in new directions.
Working first with Harlow College Art students she taught them the skills of designing stencils and using spray paints. The students made pairs of cards for families and older library visitors to play at the Invitation to Play groups at two Harlow Libraries.
One student made a set of stencils based on the cat sculptures found the Harlow Libraries.
The Harlow Brownies used these stencils and learnt how to use spray paints at workshops at Tye Green Library.
The game they made was then played at the next Invitation to Play session at Tye Green Library. The older participants loved the fact that the Brownies had made the game for them.
To make your own game of Matching Pairs you don't need to make stencils or use spray paints. The Brownies also made versions of the game simply drawing matching pictures. The Harlow Brownies drew pictures of the sculptures in the libraries while the Dunmow Brownies came up with their own original sculpture designs. All you need to make this game are pieces of card or paper cut into rectangles (we cut ours into 10 cm x 7 cm rectangles – two sheets of A4 paper/card will make 16 rectangles, enough for pieces for eight different pairs).
Take inspiration from objects in your house, or you could look through Art UK's online sculpture collection and use these for your designs. On one side of the paper or card draw eight different objects or sculptures, do each design twice to make up 16 cards. Leave the other side of the card blank.
Rules for a matching game – a game for two or more people:
- Mix up the cards.
- Lay them in rows, face down.
- The youngest person goes first.
- Turn over any two cards.
- If the two cards match, keep them.
- If they don't match, turn them back over.
- Remember what was on each card and where it was.
- Watch and remember during the other player's turn.
- The game is over when all the cards have been matched.
- The winner is the person with the most pairs of matched cards.
Please do let Art UK and High Stile Projects know if you download Sculpture Counts and play at home. And share your matching pairs!
Catherine Mummery, Director of High Stile Projects
With thanks to Harlow & Great Dunmow Brownie units, staff at Harlow & Dunmow Libraries, Art UK photographer Tracy Jenkins for the use of many of her sculpture images for the project, the Friends of Harlow Sculpture and the Gibberd Gallery and the Harlow Art Trust for use of their archives for research on the Harlow sculptures featured in this project, the Gardens of Easton Lodge for supporting workshop visits by Great Dunmow Brownies, and Selina Levinson Drake, Learning and Engagement Manager at Art UK.
The Sculpture Counts card design is by Kiran Chahal, Made Up Collective, and Just Us Digital.