ArtLab was an integrated Artist and Art therapist led series of workshops in schools that supports the development of creative and emotional learning skills.
ran to a slightly different format to accommodate all 16 Year 4 classes across the four primary schools of the Opossum Federation – quite a challenge! We worked with a new artist and a new art therapist to respond to the commission of teaching the British Values, meeting curriculum requirements whilst also exploring the broader, shared values that help us live well together.
Alongside learning about Values, aims were to increase vocabulary, develop visual literacy and art making skills, expanding pupils understanding of artists and how they work. In addition the aim was to support the development of emotional learning.
“I thought the day was very successful. The children are at a very early stage of being able to articulate their emotions and empathise so this was the more challenging aspect for them.”
As with previous ArtLabs, following the workshops, the artist created a response to the children’s work, incorporating their images and repositioning them within her own practice.
“The art was creative, hands on and could accessed by all.”
Lead Artist: Raksha Patel
Raksha has undertaken residencies with Idle Women and Kettles Yard. She has worked as an artist-educator at the Serpentine and has been with Tate as an artist giving tours and workshops for many years. In addition to this she exhibits widely.
Lead Therapist: Anna Sikorska
Anna is an artist and therapist. Anna has worked on projects with Mind, Space Studios and Spitalfields Crypt Trust as well as exhibiting her own work.
“The workshops were well organised and well resourced…(the facilitators) worked really well with the students.”
Teachers introduction: An introductory event was held after school for all teachers who would be involved in the workshops. This was a really useful session particularly with the joining of two new schools to the Opossum family. Teachers were able to ask questions and get a sense of who the artists were and what they’d be doing in the classroom.
ArtLab Classroom Format: One whole school day was spent in each classroom. Broken up into three sessions, the artist and art therapist took turns in leading tasks.
“The starter games developed the children’s understanding of different British values and what they meant – quite open for them to discuss and interpret”
The first session was used to explore the core British Values, the children took part in a vote as the ancient Greeks first had, casting a ‘pebble’ for the value they deemed most important, experiencing first hand how democracy works and feels.
After an introduction to the artists work, interpreting and digging in to the images shown, the children then worked with words or phrases that related to the values from the ‘Let’s Talk About Values’ pack of emotional learning cards. Using these phrases they were asked to find examples of something that they had experienced either at school or in their home life that illustrated their phrase / value. They were encouraged to draw this experience in pencil first and then moved on to using pastels, charcoal and coloured film. The children enjoyed learning how to draw into the pastel with a rubber, learning new techniques to explore their image making further.
What can the children do as a result of the workshops:
“They can use art as a medium to express their feelings.”
“Increased confidence with ‘having a go’”
“(They) understand more about the British Values, a difficult concept to understand.”
“It gave the less confident children a chance to express themselves through art.”
Thanks to all the teachers involved and to Prudence Barnes-Kemp, Executive Head of Opossum Federation and Lyn French, Director of A Space for their instrumental support in the development and delivery of ArtLab.