Lynsey Cullen, Education Coordinator, Warwick Arts Centre

Arts Active Network Update: 'Let’s Not Be Mortals, Let's Be Gods'

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Last week saw the culmination of the Visual Arts section of the Arts Active Network project with the official grand unveilings of the children’s remarkable creations. Don’t worry though, you haven’t missed out, the artworks will be going on tour! You’ll be able to see the pieces in person at The SPLAT Festival on July 15th in Jephson Gardens before they head back to take up residence in school.

The visual arts part of the project saw all five schools bring a class, ranging from Reception to Year 3, on trips to Warwick Arts Centre to take part in Sculpture and Colour Trails. Each student became an ‘Art Detective’ and was led around the Arts Centre and wider campus to investigate some of the university’s impressive collection of sculptures and paintings. They learned how to really look at a piece of art and how to discuss what the artist might have wanted us to think about along with discovering what it’s made from, how it’s made and why it might have been put there by the curator. By the end of the visit, everyone was doing the Grown in the Field dance (only Sculpture Trail attendees will know what this is…as if you needed another reason to book a trail!) and chatting excitedly about which their favourite piece was.

The children then took this inspiration back in to the classroom where they were visited by one of our three incredible visual artists, Jayne, Ben and Phil, who would help them to design and create a work of art to display prominently in their schools. Each school started by telling the artist which pieces of art they remembered most from their Trails and then started the design process. From stars, rockets and aliens, to princess castles, Greek Gods, light boxes and abstract shapes, the children let their imaginations run wild and the visiting artists were swept along for the ride. Jayne, Ben and Phil took these designs and over the next few visits, honed the children’s ideas and skills, to create truly unique and wonderfully inventive pieces of art that will really impact the display space in each school.

At the unveilings, to which families had been invited, the artists talked a little about how the children had created the works and the consensus was that they had been a joy to work with – full of fun, imaginative and smart ideas. Teachers were astounded at how much the children had achieved, with many commenting on how great it was to have an outside artist come in to school and not have to follow restrictive curricular guidelines. They all mentioned how freely creative the children had been during the sessions and how much confidence they’ve all developed throughout the process. The children were all unanimously proud of their creations – they mentioned how much fun it was to work in teams and how exciting it was when the artists came in to school so they could see their designs take shape. The main feeling, across all five schools, was one of surprise at just how much the children managed to achieve in six sessions.

Kingsway have a whole new wall of colour and creation, inspired by Ian Davenport’s Everything, Shrubland St and Clapham Terrace both have beautiful mobile sculptures inspired by Nechemia Azaz’s Op Mobile No. 10, Sydenham have an incredible light box inspired by David Batchelor’s Against Nature and St Patrick’s have a wonderful totem sculpture inspired by every artwork they saw at the Arts Centre, particularly the layered 3D shapes of Bernard Schöttlander’s 3B Series 1. You can see a child’s hand in every piece unveiled in the schools and I think it’s fair to say that the families were massively impressed by the creations on display. Every parent mentioned that their child had become more excited by art and enthusiastic about creating at home over the last few months, with one mum admitting to having to make room for a new ‘gallery wall’ to host the now ‘daily creations’!

It was certainly an emotional moment for everyone, including the Creative Learning department. This is our job and seeing children thrive in arty situations is meant to be par for the course for us but to be honest, we never get used to that moment when a light sparkles in a child’s eyes and they say something like, ‘I like that other children, younger and older, can see it every day and they will think, wow, year 2 are really amazing to have made something as good as this’. Even we have to gulp down an emotional breath and wipe away a watery eye, every now and then.

For more information about any of our projects or to book a Sculpture Trail or Gallery Visit, please get in touch! .