12th February 2020
My approach with the pupils during activity time has been quite specific. I drew on my own experiences of being at school. I remember how rich and varied my education was, but I found it difficult to genuinely express myself. There was so much to process, learn and demonstrate with the added pressure of outcome in the shape of good grades.
For this reason, I wanted to create a relaxed environment. Instead of setting the same task for everyone, I gave out themes or a set of boundaries within which pupils had to create a piece of art. That way, they had the time and space to enjoy the process, be imaginative and exploratory, and to take risks.
Pupils are accustomed to learning every day but not necessarily to deciding what to do given an hour of self-directed artmaking. This proved to be the most challenging aspect of our activity time. Searching for things they were truly passionate about, that they cared enough about to dedicate weekly attention to, for a whole term sometimes.
My role has been primarily as a guide. The pupils decided what they wanted to do, and I gave them advice, nudges when they were stuck, and specific skills to help them realise an idea.
Without too much emphasis on outcome, the pupils made unusual moves and interesting discoveries, which created the conditions for growth and development into other projects. When given the opportunity to explore, it’s possible to surrender to curiosity and more easily take routes less travelled.
I hope you enjoy their beautiful and quirky creations, that some of the works resonate with you and that you may leave seeing art in a different light, and perhaps even the world beyond.
Artist in Residence – King Edward’s Witley