Amphibious Trilogies

Framing art works #1

Field notes
Working with the Samos Volunteers Group
11 April 2017

Framing art works in extending choreography in which movements do matter and materialise

When working in the pop-up library inside the refugee camp I came across an educational book called Are you in the picture. The book, made for children, gives guidelines on how they might grasp and interpret works of art. It is quite beautiful, with illustrations as examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t document the book’s items a credentials. At a glance, I think that the book was published somewhere between 1940s and 1950s. Flipping the pages I encountered a frog!


After working in the library I take the book with me to share with the kids activities on the slope outside the camp’s gate. I wanted to convey just a little bit of the essence of this text, all be it quite dated. Obviously, some interpreting interventions are needed. I am grateful for the help of the multilingual translations; from teachers to participants and family members.


Brynjar (my colleague) has made a colouring cartoon book in 200 examples, themed from the input of the children when working with the Samos Volunteers in September 2016. Most children love the colouring book. There’s a frog on the front cover, a pond on the back cover, and inside is a boat, plane, birthday cake, superhero refugee kids, and more. The children do their colourings under a shady tree. A moment of calmness as it lasts. Some play with balls, bubbles and skipping ropes. Others might play with UNO cards, dominoes and plasticine figures.


A little boy coming from Syria, about six years old, asks me to take a snapshot of his coloured superhero. Paying attention to the brilliant sun light, we seek the best place to make the photo. Together, we hang the picture on the shady tree. He points to the picture, he points to his chest. The message is clear; ‘this is me and this is me‘. A gentle breeze makes his art work move, flapping in the wind. A dynamic pop-up gallery is borne, for all to use, for all to see.


But that’s not all. He makes several versions of an imaginary gecko-like creature, shaping them in plasticine. He selects one of these, first putting the creature on a branch of the tree. Climbing and hopping, he selects spaces in the rough terrain, arranging the creature’s body according to the terrain and the characteristics of the creature.


All the time, he gives instructions for framing the photos. It takes some time to fathom out on what he is doing. Oh yes! He is creating a narrative about a descending journey with several manoeuvres, from tree to the rocks, ending in a sheltering rock with a view – nose up, eyes down. Perhaps he had in mind to make a comic strip or a stop-motion animation?

After the act: With pride, the child shows the photos to his father. The father has supervised this session. We try to transfer these photos to the father’s mobile phone, but the bandwidth is too slow. I ask if I can publish these photos on this website, and he gives oral permission with one condition, that is to protect privacy.


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.