We received some great news this week on a personal but related venture. Newtongrange Primary School Parent Council (our daughter's school) is to receive full funding from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust Participatory Budget, to enable all its pupils to attend an educational day at Jupiter Artland.
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) is a regeneration organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life in Britain’s former mining communities. Newtongrange recently took part in a Fun Day to report back on the findings of their local household survey. This gave the 300 people who attended the event the opportunity to vote for local projects, Jupiter Artland being one.
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. Jupiter Artland offer hands on activities looking at the techniques of the Jupiter artists as well as challenging children and young people to think about the relationship between art and nature at Jupiter and the conceptual content of the artwork. All sessions are linked to the curriculum and are relevant to all stages of the school and university syllabus.
Having visited Jupiter Artland many times, for work and with my family, I decided that (on behalf of the school Parent Council) I would take Jupiter Artland up on their mission, which aims to achieve 'engagement with every child in Scotland'.
I am absolutely thrilled for every child at Newtongrange as it's a magical place! Very little art in the school curriculum is from art specialists at Primary level or based on contemporary art – there is more focus on historical, established artists and art movements. Scotland has a rich contemporary art scene and it is not necessarily being exposed to children through the curriculum.
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.
By studying art we are not necessarily saying "you're going to be an artist" but it's engaging students in the creative thinking, lateral thinking etc. In an uncertain world where everything is assessed, perfection is key, to be right not wrong is essential, art offers something more ambiguous and children actually need to be open and comfortable with that uncertainty, also that their opinion is valid and important, not necessarily wrong or right.
If nothing else, art teaches us that we are part of something much larger than ourselves.
There is much excitement among the kids that know we've received funding – and in our household!
Julie Read is the founder of Portfolio Oomph – getting you into art college. Portfolio Oomph has been developed to assist with art college applications and has successfully guided many students onto some of the country's most competitive colleges and courses.
has been at both ends of the system; helping students creating an art portfolio for success in applying to art college, as well as interviewing applicants for entry to Edinburgh College of Art for nine years. She also led the student recruitment activity at Edinburgh College of Art (2006 – 9) which involved advising many prospective students and their parents about applying to art college.
For further information please contact:
Julie Read: 07815 810797