Work that involves participation by way of contribution is there because it has been created collectively. When working with people who are in isolated or vulnerable situations the artwork becomes a catalyst for change. Its linage is of activisim and dialogical art practices.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Arts for Hearts, Year 3

Year three (7-8 year olds)

After lunch I worked with the year three children. This group seemed much more advanced so I adapted the session accordingly. We started with a discussion about health- foods, drinks, activities, sports, staying clean, etc. This group had a good concept of how to be healthy and where able to discuss this confidently in a group.

I decided to give them more ownership over the banner they would create and I split the class into team of 3 and 4 to come up with designs using the themes we had discussed. This worked really well. I called the class back to the floor after 15 minutes of drawing to discuss what they had come up with. I then explained that we had various colours of large squares of felt and that they must decide in their group what colour would be best for their designs. This was a great opportunity to develop their decision-making and negotiating skills whilst in a team. They responded very well and although some team picked the same colour, they were able to come up with solutions that worked for everybody.

The next challenge for the teams was to decide how each person in their team would contribute to the design on the felt square. Each team took an individual approach to this. Some took it turns to do their own picture, some clearly divided up the square into four of three, some gathered around and all drew at the same time, and some where happy to instruct the others in the group and not take part in the actual drawing themselves.

After some time I demonstrated how to cut a hole in the felt to attached it to the banner and called on a volunteer to demonstrate it also and after they had completed this we decided on the layout of the banner by voting and some of the group helped to attach the squares to the banner.

Feedback: ‘That was good’

Arts for Hearts, year 1

Year one (5-6 year olds):
The children in year one were very excited about the activity they would be doing today. After an initial introduction I played a game with them inspired by a games called nonsense poem to encourage them to think in images about health. The tables were set out with paper and pencils and the children walked around the table until I said a word, such as healthy food, whereupon they would draw the first thing that came into their heads. After a minute or two I would ask them to continue walking and then say another phrase, such as staying active or keeping clean until we had covered a range of health topics. This worked well for some children and not so well with others as they were more comfortable sitting and spending time over a drawing. So after this I let them spend some time drawing their own images of health foods, drinks and activities. I encouraged them to use the images from the big sheets and swapped these from table to table to share the information.
About 15 minutes before their break I demonstrated using the fabric paints which they were going o use to decorate their felt square before it went on their banner. Because of the nature of this technique this would be done table by table so that they could wear aprons and cover the table. The children really enjoyed using the paints as there was a wide variety of colours to use. I was a little concerned about using fabric paints and some of the children found using them quite challenging. Some found it difficult to wait their turn to paint whereas others really enjoyed having more time to draw or play with jigsaws.
After each child had decorated a square of felt I then put these together on the banner. Some of the children helped me with this and others decorated the lettering, which said ‘Healthy and Happy’.

Children: ‘I liked painting’, ‘That was fun’
Teacher ‘I think they really enjoyed this process’

Arts for Hearts at St Stephens Primary School

St Stephen's Primary School in Bradford and Kala Sangam, Bradford commisioned four artists to work with eight year groups to create artwork around the theme of healthly living. I was asked to work with year 1 and year 3 using constructed textiles. Above are some images of the planning stages.

Aims: To create a semi permanent piece of art work using the theme of healthy eating and exercise with each class to be completed and ready for display by the end of the day

Objectives: Each group will be given the opportunity to discuss what they understand about healthy living
Each group will be involved in creative activity, which looks at aspects of healthy living
Each child will have the opportunity to contribute to a class banner to be displayed at the end of the day in school assembly

Outline of workshop: The workshop is to last for two hours for each class. At the beginning of each session there will be an open discussion about health followed by drawing and then a demonstration of the materials that the children will use to create the banner. The technique I will be using is taken from appliqué. Usually in appliqué the shapes are sewn onto the backing fabric. As we are constrained by time and skills I will be using an open mesh fabric as the backing cloth so that the shapes can be tied on at the corners.