Summer is here again and so too is the Art Exchange - a community art project run by local artists in Pudsey, West Yorkshire. I have been working at Pudsey Lowtown this year as a collaborative English consultant and art teacher and this exhibition was the perfect opportunity to display some of the fantastic art work created by children at the school.
We even had three winners! A third place prize and two special commendations. Well done to those children! But prizes aside, this was the perfect way to end a year's worth of art teaching - the end of a process; and the idea of process is central to the way I have tried to teach art.
In what seems a growing trend, many schools choose to showcase art by holding a Creative Week or similar - a one week art frenzy where children take daily art lessons to develop their skills. Whilst it is great to see schools celebrating art by awarding it special focus, this approach is usually borne out of the lack of time to teach art regularly; children's understanding of the time-consuming but rich and rewarding processes by which art is created suffers as a consequence. Thus, creative skills become stilted and appreciation of art is diminished - victims of an education system obsessed with core subjects and metrics.
It was a rewarding opportunity therefore to be offer the chance to work with children weekly on art projects which gave the time to develop skills and examine the process of creating art rather than simply 'making' a finished piece. From Picasso to Magritte, to Chinese calligraphy to posters for Hamlet, this year's work at Pudsey Lowtown has been as rewarding as it has been varied - for the children and for me.
Pictures from this year's art work will appear in my Gallery this summer.
Most exciting was the work I did with Year 2 on surrealist Belgian artist Rene Magritte. Exploring the nature of abstract art, this project allowed the children to experiment changing and merging images and exploring symbolism in art. It was also a lot of fun!
We recreated Magritte's famous work The Treachery of Images featuring the famous line This is not a pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) by using photographs of ourselves, replacing the face with an object that defines or has meaning for us.
Also a favourite among young visitors to the exhibition was this collaborative effort recreating Magritte's Golconda; rather than raining bowler-hatted men, this time it was raining us over a Leeds skyline. Everyone had fun trying to spot someone they knew!