Art and craft projects have wide application to many subjects within the National Curriculum at all stages and also for pure enjoyment of participating in hands-on creativity. Targeted educational goals can be discussed and included at the course planning stage to cover aspects of the National Curriculum or specific student needs. While a project plan is being prepared, I assess what facilities, materials and background information are needed and how best these can be provided. I greatly enjoy working with children and adults with a range of abilities and needs, and my key aim is to provide courses that are stimulating, develop creative thinking and produce a sense of achievement in all.
Below are listed a small selection of workshops I have delivered, a full list is found in my education cv, full details and pictures of any of these projects are available on request.
Raku Mural, Richard Lander School (School Project)
Key stage 3-4
With the new building work at Richard Lander School in Truro came an opportunity for children to create a mural, replicating the archaeological map of the site. A mammoth task of mapping out, tracing, cutting tiles and using relief and textures to depict the various boundaries and archaeological remains preceded the final days of glazing and firing. A small number of students were able to be directly involved in firing the kiln and controlling the oxidation/ reduction effects. Training was also given to technicians so that the remainder of the tiles could be fired by the art department.
Smoke fired ceramics (Collaborative School Project)
Key stage 3
2 Day Course
A collaboration of six schools took part in the African Art exhibition at the Lander Gallery in Truro. Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Richard Lander tracing the course of the River Niger, the students were given an exciting opportunity to experience a traditional bonfire firing. Coil pots were made using red clay, with reference to traditional designs and textural patterns then stacked together and fired within a bonfire. A second bonfire was laid containing white clay forms wrapped in foil and containing various oxides to achieve a further variety of effects. The children were fully involved with the whole process and also recorded and shared the results of their experiments.
Drym Valley Adult Education Centre – Big Draw (Art & Health)
As part of the annual Big Draw event the Drym Valley Centre in Cornwall took part in a range of ceramic drawing projects. Drym valley Centre provides specialised learning activities in a rural setting to adults with special needs.
The workshop was linked to visits the group made to Penlee House and Museum, and within the context of the local fishing tradition. The projects included slip-trailed drawings, sgraffitoed drawings, and making drawings using fishing materials such as lines, rope, nets and hooks. The finished pieces included drawn portraits of ‘Betsy’ in historical costume, slip trailed fish and abstract compositions based on Betsy’s costume, fishing nets and baskets.
The clients taking part gained confidence in their work and abilities, and found the workshop both stimulating and enjoyable. The finished pieces were framed and exhibited at the Royal Cornwall museum.
Hayle Day Centre for the visually impaired (Art & Health)
Adult & Senior
This course was designed for elderly members of the Hayle community, with varying degrees of visual impairment as well as mobility problems. Only a small minority had any experience of expressing themselves through art, whilst the majority had extremely fixed views about their ability and skills, particularly as they also had severe visual impairment.
Collaboratively, a 3’ x 4’ collaged portrait was created using a projected image of ‘Betsy’, enlarged photographs of details of her costume, stencils, plastercine, pastels, marker pens and magnifying glasses. After some initial apprehension, the participants of the day centre were delighted with their achievement - having enthusiastically produced drawings with and without stencils, traced portions of the projected image to colour and decorate, and helped to assemble the final collage.
Newlyn Fish festival (Public Event, drop in workshop)
Key Stage 1 to Adult
Set up outside the Newlyn Art Gallery, at the celebrated Newlyn Fish festival, this fun and light hearted drop-in workshop involved creating Mackerel – and other wonderfully imaginative fish. Using card, tissue, foil and wire, children and adults were able to participate in a collaborative installation by adding their fish to the fishing net. Older members of the group were able to include moving parts on their mackerel, while the children made a static version which they enthusiastically decorated.
Art in the Park – Stanhope Forbes (Public Event)
Key stage 2-3
Art in the Park is held every summer in Penlee Park, Penzance. Art workshops are held outdoors in a marquee and the event is run in collaboration with Newlyn Art Gallery. ‘Bright Future’ was a workshop run in response to the major Stanhope Forbes exhibition held in Penlee House at the time, and focussed on the painting ‘Village Rendezvous’. The students, aged 8-13 explored the exhibition and engaged in discussion around the colours used and historical context of Forbes’ work.
Focussing on a contemporary narrative, students produced a modern interpretation of ‘Village Rendezvous’. Elements which remain relatively unchanged were depicted in oil pastels, contrasting with those that have changed dramatically, through the use of magazine pictures. Students explored and discussed the ways in which Forbes depicted the late 19th and early 20th Century and how an equally positive, if not idealised portrayal of modern living might be created. Parallels were discussed and enjoyed by the children concerning how advertising companies and magazines also present idealised imagery.
Explorations In Clay (Adult Course)
This highly successful course was aimed at breaking down preconceived ideas of what pottery is about, and pushing out the boundaries. The first part of the course was experimental in approach, exploring a variety of techniques for creating unusual effects in clay. Paper, card, string, fabric, wood and other found objects were used to produce patterns and textures. New techniques were introduced such as stretching textured slabs and metal, glass and wire were incorporated into mixed media work. Experiments using minerals, oxides and frits were explored as sources of colour and simple glazes.
The second half of the course focussed on expanding these techniques to produce completed pieces of work. Concentrating on applying the knowledge and experience gained, emphasis was placed on resolving compositional, conceptual and technical issues with resource material available and technical support as required.
Lost and Found in Translation (Exhibition Linked Course)
Key Stage 3-4
This twelve week course linked to an exhibition of work by Victoria Hall, Helena Goldwater and Simon Morley, at Newlyn Art Gallery. These artists, through drawing, painting and video transfer text from one medium to another. Ideas were explored with students around the themes of symbolism, hidden messages and changing of context.
Projects included pencil drawings of flowers to construct messages based on their symbolic meaning, followed by creating flowers from the drawings, abstracting further from the original flowers. Hollow clay sculptures were created with messages inside, hinted at on the outside through symbolism or words with hidden meanings. Wire cages were designed and constructed containing text, not viewable as a whole, containing a secret message with retained privacy. When working with older children I encourage engagement with the conceptual element of contemporary art, and expression of their own responses to it and the world about them. This project had a foundation of popular culture and the students explored the translation themes with reference to advertising, logos / branding and advertising.
In Transit with Elly Thomas (Exhibition linked workshop)
Key stage 2-3
The project illustrated here is linked with a collaboration that took part between Penlee House and Museum, and an exciting new mobile exhibition project called In Transit. Artist, Elly Thomas’s work is inspired by childrens’ drawings, which she then scales up to include sculptural elements– thus taking the viewer into the child’s imaginary landscape. With this as a starting point, the workshop participants visited the In Transit exhibition, then gathered samples of flora and fauna from the memorial garden at Penlee. The samples were then studied under the microscope from which detailed drawings were made. These studies were scaled up to produce final A1 size drawings in marker pens. The children thoroughly enjoyed the hands – on approach to this workshop, and gained an excellent understanding of how dramatically changing scale alters our perspective.
Key stage 2-Adult
Raku is an exciting outdoor live-fire pottery firing technique, which involves removing red-hot glazed pottery from the kiln when it has reached approximately 1000 centigrade. The pieces of work are then buried in a chamber of sawdust for controlled post-firing reduction. Final quenching and cleaning reveals spectacular copper lustre and rich peacock colours complemented with subtle and delicate crackle effects.
One day courses introduce students already familiar with working with clay to the process of Raku firing. Glaze techniques, and the theory of oxidation and reduction are applied to an assortment of biscuit fired work previously made by the students. Two day courses also cover making techniques suited to the subsequent firing.
Raku is an extremely fast firing, and is particularly fulfilling for that reason as pieces of work can be finished within two hours. As the pieces of work are subjected to high degrees of thermal shock, it also provides a useful monitor to how well the work has been made! Generally 6-7 firings are achieved with over 30 pieces of raku completed. With younger children it is necessary to either provide the bisque ware to be glazed, or be involved in supervising the making to ensure survival of the pieces.