Yesterday was a fabulous day.
We saw the first 2 classes from Newtongrange Primary School, where our daughter attends, visit Jupiter Artland Foundation to engage in their hands on education programme. I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled for every child at Newtongrange as it's a magical place! We had a fabulous first day and the quality of the workshop was outstanding.
Jupiter Artland is a sculpture park and art gallery sitting in the grounds of Bonnington House, a 19th-century country house near Wilkieston, in West Lothian. The Jupiter Artland Foundation offers FREE visits for schools and universities during term times. The workshops are linked to the curriculum and are relevant to all stages of the school syllabus.
We applied for funding as we wanted to take Jupiter Artland up on their mission, which aims to achieve "engagement with every child in Scotland'.
The pupils did a workshop inspired by Nathan Coley's – "The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship in Edinburgh" (2004).
The kids were SO engaged in the workshop – were buzzing with questions and answers and the tour of some of the other artworks was amazing – they just took it in their stride and learned so much.
The funding came from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust Participatory Budget, to enable every pupil to visit and work on a specially designed project that is based on a piece of work from one of the commissioned artists at Jupiter. This challenges the children to think about the relationship between art and nature at Jupiter and the conceptual content of the artwork.
Art in primary schools is often focused on historical, established artists and art movements which in turn, results in an emphasis on technical ability. However, Scotland has a rich Contemporary Art scene (from 1960/70s up until today) and it is not necessarily being exposed to children through the curriculum. With Contemporary Art often being about ideas and concerns, rather than solely the aesthetic (the look of the work), Contemporary artists experiment with ideas and materials using whatever they think illustrates their idea most appropriately.
This has made the visits to Jupiter Artland an ideal vehicle to explore project work in an integrated way and to engage pupils in an alternative learning style, that might be more beneficial to some students than other styles. If going to Jupiter and making art/seeing things differently gets just one kid to see how learning can be done in different ways in different environments, then the project to me has been a success – and I saw this happen yesterday.
Engaging in art can assist children to know and understand the world and it's multi-faceted aspects, to open up discussion around many issues that they may not encounter in their normal day to day life. Art is fun and learning happens so much more easily through play.
In this digital age, with access to so much art online many believe that by seeing a photo of an exhibit, they've seen it. However, really experiencing this artwork is such a different thing. And that is why it is important to get children out to visit such places as Jupiter Artland, to experience the art in context. Many may never visit a gallery, as they may feel that they are exclusive places where they're not welcome. To break down these barriers and to see that everyone is welcome to engage in Contemporary Art is a good message to instil at a young age.
The perceived value of studying art is usually based on the product/outcome. However, there is more and more evidence that suggests that the habits that are formed whilst being creative are some of the most valuable transferable skills that are useful an any walk of life. One being curiosity As Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
We have also created a 15 part series of videos 'Employability bites' which breaks down the skills that are used WHILST being creative that are transferable to any subject. Check them out here and if you want to download our FREE eBook to accompany it, please do so.
Further applications for the rest of the school to visit are ongoing and it is hoped that this will be complete by August 2018.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) is a regeneration organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life in Britain’s former mining communities. In February, the Newtongrange Community took part in a Fun Day to vote for local projects to receive funding, the Primary School project at Jupiter Artland being one.
Also published on Medium.