Fun with plasticine at Queeristan 2015

I was very excited to have been given the opportunity to share a creative activity at this festival 🙂
Queeristan is an annual festival, now in its 5th year. Held in Amsterdam, it is “…a DIY festival about exploring and countering the normative workings of gender, sexuality and identity in an autonomous space that avoids capitalism, commercialisation, heteronormativity, racism, sexism and transphobia.”
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I was invited by David Nys to introduce some creative fun activity to the workshop he ran on the second day of the event:
 – Non-monogamy –
“Monogamy and heteronormativity oppress alternative forms of doing relationships.
This workshop will be a space to discuss how they affect us: the relationships between non-binary people,
the privileges of cisgendered heterosexual couples,
the social and legal advantages of monogamous relationships
and any related issues.”
After brainstorming about making models of different relationship styles, I set about finding materialsI needed in local art shops in Amsterdam and NL. I discovered that plasticine is very much a British phenomenon. It’s like play dough and Fimo but is much more elastic and malleable. Also it is reusable. It doesn’t dry out and cannot be baked hard. This is essential for professional use in stop-motion animation (think Wallace & Gromit). I like the impermanence of this substance because for me I like to focus on process in art. The fact that the outcome is ephemeral, non-lasting, brings even more value and beauty to what was experienced and achieved. The other benefit is because it’s reusable, there is little environmental waste.
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I brought a broad range of coloured plasticine, which was used in a range of ways.
Luckily I had a short trip planned to London and picked up supplies from 4D Model Shop in time for the workshop.
Back in Amsterdam I was ready for the workshop, armed with 2kg of Newplast plasticine in a range of colours that even  included different skin tones, a bunch of cocktail sticks, paper straws and some nervousness (it was the very first activity I’d run in this setting, with such an international and diverse mix of adults), I took my place in the workshop.
The discussions covered a range of areas concerning non-monogamy, couple privilege, solo polyamory, marriage and how the law affects people in alternative relationships. All stimulating stuff to then ponder and discuss during the modelling activity.
After a short break participants returned and were invited to dive in and play with the plasticine and come up with something that reflects their thoughts, ideas or experiences of non-monogamy. The outcomes were as unique as the lovely people who created them. From polycules and chain links to a rubiks style cube! It was also a delight to hear the conversations that were taking place amongst the participants too. Some got so involved in the making that even the snacks I brought were included in their models! I asked each participant if they wished to share an explanation of what they made, which you will find below some photographs.
If you are one of the participants, do leave a reply below
about how you found the experience
and what you got out of it. 
Many thanks to everyone who took part, and
especially to David Nys who invited me to run this activity 🙂
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Working in different colours together. See completed sculpture to understand why…
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Not all polycules look like molecules. Some look like Rubiks cubes instead! 🙂

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Lots of thought was given to the types of links, and what the coloured balls represented.
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Colourful cuddle puddle!

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Working things out together.


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We are all connected 🙂
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Is there a broken or missing link here?


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Preparation makes for a better construction. In building sculptures and also relationship building too?

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Sculpture (above) – what the colours mean:

  • White – established relationships
  • Orange – undefined relationships
  • Green partners of undefined
  • Red – children
  • Purple – ME
  • Green on bar – non-romantic relationships.
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      A totem of priorities (photo above).
      TOP – myself
      MIDDLE – my children
      BASE – my friends.
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  • Big sphere
    polycule (photo above) –
    • ME The different colours blended, show the mixed facets that make up who I am.
    • Close balls aspects of my life that are important: sports, hobbies etc.
    • Short sticks close food friends room mate
  • Long sticks important relationships but not as close as others.
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Ambroise’s Polycule (above):

  • Light green – me
  • Orange – active “healthy’ relationships
  • Yellow – dying relationships
  • Purple – “finished” relationships, but yeah, its complicated.
  • Black – non sexual but yeah, you know, its not exactly amibguous
  • Green – flat mate
  • * (exploded blobs) – emotionally painful
  • Wooden stick (cocktail stick) – emotionally stable
  • Paper stick (straw) – “weak” relationship

2 thoughts on “Fun with plasticine at Queeristan 2015

  1. As always you are creating new ideas, we can work with. I didn’t know though that plasticine was particular to the UK.

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    1. Thank you. Newplast is a British company. The plasticine, just like what has been used for years in primary schools, I discovered is apparently what professional stop-motion animators use globally. Sadly they don’t seem to have distribution in The Netherlands. I will keep looking though.

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