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Project: Me Myself and I ArtLab+ at Earlsmead Primary School Year 3

23 Apr-12 Aug 2021

ArtLab+ reverses the damage of inherited mistakes in art education…
I think you have to look at how a project like this impacts on the bigger picture… we have had to look in on ourself as a school and think ‘how do we teach art and how do our children see art? Are we stifling the children with obsessions about getting things right?’ The
 legacy of ArtLab+ for us will be questioning how we can challenge that…
– Adell Horbury Assistant Head Teacher, Earlsmead Primary School

This year we had nearly every child in year 4 bringing a letter back, hoping to join ArtLab+ has become ‘ArtLab+ taught (the children) that there is no right or wrong in Art… we need to work on that more as a school, that not everything has to be a certain way…’

In April 2021, artist Shepherd Manyika and art therapist Sarah Furneaux – Blick returned to Earlsmead Primary School to complete year 3 of the ArtLab+funded by Children in Need.

Shepherd and Sarah in collaboration with Susan Damali Ibreck, iniva’s curator of learning and wellbeing, led on a delivery of art therapy informed arts practice focussed on:

  •  developing confidence
  •  increasing emotional learning skills and vocabulary
  • broadening horizons

Over the three years, we worked with over 40 children, ages 8 – 11 with varying SEND alongside those with an interest in art that is not able to be supported in the home.

Within ArtLab+ we create space to think critically about a wide range of artists’ work from across the globe and demonstrate who can make art and what art making can be. We aim to help participants position themselves in the world with confidence and break down barriers to the arts.

This year Shepherd set the theme of ‘Me, Myself and I’ and led 15 children on a 10 week course of art making. The group worked with plaster, clay, foil, paint, charcoal and ideas of protest to explore different elements of who they were, as individuals, in relation to their families or carers, in relation to each other. In addition the children were introduced to the work of Althea McNish, an artist and textile designer who lived close to the school. Their McNish inspired textile prints form a huge 3D wall installation and table cloth in the exhibitions.

You inspired the children to inform their individuality…
Teacher at Earlsmead

This year had it’s challenges: the affect of the pandemic was evident in the children taking part, with many parents commenting on how needed these workshops were for their children. Each and every child worked so hard, through personal and individual limitations to achieve wonderful works of art that they were so proud to exhibit and share with their families and carers. We were very pleased to welcome the Deputy mayor of Tottenham to open the exhibition at the school and award the children their ArtLab+ certificates.

This is exactly what my son needed, he was really affected by lockdown and I can see how much he has really grown in confidence since being on ArtLab…
Parent/carer of ArtLab+ artist
There is foil and paper everywhere at home now, he is always making…
Parent/carer of ArtLab+ artist
Thank you so much, on behalf of my girls…
Parent/carer of ArtLab+ artist

The workshops culminated in an exhibition across two sites: one that focuses on Shepherd Manyika’s practice along with collaborative works, will be on show at the Stuart Hall Library until 12 August 2021. The sister exhibition site at Earlsmead Primary School hosted Me Myself and I from the 22 – 25th July.

A publication that inspires interactivity was created alongside the exhibitions. The Malawi Cookbook, a colouring/ art book can be accessed free of charge at the Stuart Hall Library.


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