Vinyl juke box being used by the audience to select tunes between acts at the Rock House, Brighton.
The Wild Things project started as an idea by ‘Heavy Load’ back in 2008. We were having a truly crazy year with the feature documentary appearing on UK and US TV, and at international film festivals, and as well as attracting loads of support for the newly formed ‘Stay Up Late campaign’ we’d also attracted loads of interest from people who’d been introduced to the learning disability music scene through the film. Having been part of this emerging scene for years we were aware we weren’t alone so Wild Things was our idea to help showcase some of the exciting music being made.
Vol 1, released in 2008 featured acts from the UK and we were soon approached by acts from other countries asking to get involved and so Vol.2, release in 2010 featured acts from North and South America, Australia and Europe. In 2012 we released Vol. 3, and inspired by the Olympic and Paralympic Games we decided to try and feature at least one act from every continent, and succeeded. This release also saw us awarded an ‘Inspire Mark’ from the organisers of the 2012 Games.
The Wild Things juke box is all about getting this music to a wider audience and also taking forward our desire to work with learning disabled artists in new and creative ways, all as part of our aim to promote people with learning disabilities in a positive light.
The information leaflet for the juke boxes
Felt rhino at the Learning Disability Wales conference, Newport, 21st Nov ‘13
Cash has been working with marginalised groups for over 20 years, focusing particularly on adults and teenagers with learning disabilities. She founded Redstart Arts in 2011 to create a platform for artists with learning disabilities. She holds an MA in Inclusive Arts Practice and currently works as an Art Educator for the Royal Academy of Art. Cash lives and works in London.
David is twenty-eight; he works in 2 and 3 dimensions, in figurative and abstract forms. He is interested in working with a variety of materials such as cloth, plaster, card, and stone. David is non-verbal communicating largely through actions and Makaton, a form of sign language used by people with learning disabilities. David’s family are Chinese and the language spoken at home is Mandarin, although David also understands English. David has a personal assistant, Tom, who supports him in accessing his interests in the community on a daily basis. David lives with his family in London.
Gaffer rhino taking up home at the Aldingbourne Country Centre shop in West Sussex
The Building of Rhino Head no.3
I decided to work with David again on Rhino Head number 3 as we had established a good working relationship that felt important to continue.
We began as before by making drawings as a way to set the scene. We then built the structure as we had for the last rhino.
The tricky part was how to come up with a third idea that complemented the last two. We wanted to keep with the music theme and ideas floated for some time. I thought particularly of David’s skills but was also open to the fact that when bringing new ideas to David, we are often met with surprise at his innate talents. We defiantly wanted to keep in with the music theme but we were interested in using a completely different material as well as a different way of working.
After plowing through some ideas with friends we settled on the destruction of vinyl records, criminal I know, but it was too good an idea to let go.
David was a bit trigger-happy with the hammer, thank God for the safety goggles! After thinking through this health and safety nightmare, we decided to do all of the smashing up within the safety of a bag.
Having made the structure of the head in ‘Day 1,’ we set about gluing on pieces of vinyl records as an experiment.
We loved it, but could see that we had to make a darker surface to work on in case of any gaps forming. We therefore went back to the original idea and covered the head in black gaffer tape, then set to work on smashing, gluing and placing the fragments of vinyl records onto the structure.
We were really not sure whether this would be a usable hook for the headphones but we were determined to finish it and leave the decision with Paul.
Fragmented vinyl records can be quite sharp and a bit catchy. Another possible health and safety nightmare for the general public! We solved this problem by applying a heat gun to the particularly sharp areas, softening the points.
The eyes were formed from the centre hole of the record surrounded by the curved grooves. We used about 8 records in all, so not too tragic.
The Building of Rhino Head no.2.
As a preliminary day David and I spent sometime looking at images of Rhinos from the Natural History Museum, which David and his personal assistant Tom had visited. We made drawings and David immediately wanted to work on the wool felt that I thought may be a good starting place for creating a texture using graphite sticks. David decided to draw rhinos onto the wool felt and cut them out. On one of the rhinos he cut off the legs so I provided him with safety pins, with which to reattach the legs. We then did a lot scribbling with the graphite sticks to create an effect inspired by the textural skin of the Rhino. We cut this up and began to pin the pieces together.
Having made a paper pattern from a drawing I cut the pieces out of plywood, which we screwed together to build the structure of the head. We then taped a bin bag to this and filled it with builders expanding insulating foam, a strange experience. This is always a bit of an unknown, as we never really know which way the foam is going to expand. But David particularly enjoyed this part, making lots of noise in the process.
The next day we were able to peel off the bin bag that left us with this very deformed swollen Rhino’s head. It was in desperate need to be carved into shape. This we did with a bread knife, as it gave a finer cut than using a saw.
We began to make a patchwork skin from the pieces of graphite-enhanced wool felt, fastened together with the safety pins. We covered the surface of the head, paying particular attention to contrast the shading of the horns and eyes in order to highlight these areas. The ears were a bit floppy so we reinforced them with plastic.
David’s enthusiasm was incredible for scribbling, cutting and pinning.
He had clearly studied the Rhino incredibly well as his attention to detail was evident.
An exciting moment - the delivery of vinyl and felt rhino heads. And things of absolute beauty and imagination they are too.
Building the next two juke boxes
DJ Biggsy exploring the juke box at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill
The crates featuring on the album cover of our Wild Things CD Vol 3 became an exhibit in their right - they were designed by artist Kelvin Burke and Jo Offer (Part of the Rockets Artists group) and the exhibit told the story of a road trip they’d been on of their own. It was lovely to be reunited with them.