Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Art is… connecting, talking, travelling…

by Jo Dacombe, Artist Associate
Working with Schools

The four Associate Artists at Nottingham Contemporary that work with schools across Nottingham continue to be inspired by contemporary art in a variety of ways – with ambitious and surprising results!

"The Klaus Factor”, Crab Tree School working with Sian Watson Taylor
In the 2011 autumn term artists worked with teachers to plan ways to engage children with the exhibition by Klaus Weber, If You Leave Me I’m Not Coming & Already There!

Activity inspired by the exhibitions is not always focussed on making, but on ways of thinking and exploring, which can result in a wide range of responses crossing curriculum areas. Sessions last term focused on exploring connections, how we think about objects and how we express opinions. 

“Connections Workshop”, Djanogly Academy with Jo Dacombe
Artist Sian Watson Taylor thinks of creativity as a process for opening up new ways of thinking and building confidence. Working with Big Wood Comprehensive, Robin Hood Primary and Crab Tree Farm Primary Schools, Sian has been exploring with the teachers ways of building confidence in the children to talk about art and their own opinions. The children tried to identify one piece of art in the whole exhibition that had “The Klaus Factor”, that summed up everything about the artist’s ideas, and they debated which piece this should be and why. The project approaches children as “mini-ambassadors” for contemporary art, building their confidence and passion to discuss art.

My practice involves mapping and an interest in networks. Working with Djanogly Academy, Heathfield Primary and Mellers Primary, they have been exploring the idea of connections. Djanogly decided to challenge their students to attempt to make a connection between each of the 200 objects displayed in the exhibition.  By doing so, they drew out the themes of the exhibition that the artist Klaus Weber is interested in, such as connections between man and animals, and science and nature.  Heathfield School took part in a “Random Art Trail” to discover themes in the exhibition, and Mellers Primary created their own inventions harnessing the powers of nature.

Gillian Brent works with sculpture, so is interested in how people relate to objects. With Carrington Primary, Ambleside Primary and Bentinck Primary Schools, Gillian and the teachers have been getting the children to think about what objects mean to us. They have discussed the idea of collections of objects, how the stuff that objects are made of influence the way you feel about them, and how the objects you choose can say something about you. At Carrington the children were asked to bring something in from home that would say something about them individually, and they created a museum of their class by putting all their objects together into an exhibition in their classroom.

Work by pupils from Ambleside on a visit to the gallery with Gillian Brent

Artist Chris Lewis-Jones is interested in the journeys that we take, believing that “the journey is more important than the destination”. Working with Edale Rise Primary, Farnborough and Blessed Robert Widmerpool Schools, Chris and his schools are working on the idea of “travelling hopefully” and interpreting this in different ways:  ideas travelling across media, across curricula, sharing between schools, travelling across communities and exploring surroundings. Inspired by the Shape of the Ape artwork in the Klaus Weber exhibition, where a number of variations of the same sculpture appear on glass plinths, Edale Rise School are making their own plinths which will result in a series of photographs of the children standing on the plinths in locations in Nottingham!

“The Museum Of Our Class” by Carrington Primary School with Gillian Brent
By bringing their own practices to working with teachers and schools, artists at Nottingham Contemporary open up new ways in which children can engage with exhibitions. The partnerships with Nottingham schools continue into 2012.

Find out about our Schools and Colleges programme here