Herne Bay Juniors is a Primary School in my home town. I don’t think I have run any workshops in there and my children did not go there, but none the less I was very interested to see what they had made. Particularly interested as I saw their work displayed at Beach Creative, an Arts Centre in the town. This earlier display was what you might describe as ‘teacher heavy’. It was mounted on several layers of coloured card, cropped very heavily and appeared very selective about what was displayed and how things related to other pieces. Well put together, or curated if you like, but not much sense of children exploring anything. I am sure you know that 6 and 7 year olds do not ‘study pointillism’ and become ‘inspired by the brush work of Van Gogh’ as it says on the description next to their work. 6 – 7 year olds are perhaps, expressionistic, spontaneous, erratic and clumsy when using paints and I could not see so much of that going on. So that is why I was so interested to go and see their display in a local children’s bookshop called a Bundle of Books. They had created a large window display using the Lost Words book as a starting point just the same as I had with my school.
I think its an interesting question on how far to intervene with children’s artwork, or community artwork come to that. I know I’m being harsh on the Herne Bay Junior teachers for wanting their pupils work to look good.
The first thing I noticed was how colourful this was. Many of the pieces were covered in coloured tissue paper. Some even used paint, I don’t know why I am surprised, probably because I never use paint. Perhaps I’m austere and keep it puritanically cardboard? The bookshop owner was very keen to hear what I thought? It became apparent that she had no idea I was part of the wider project or had used the lost words book for two similar installations. It was a fly on the wall opportunity to hear what as a partner or stake holder she thought about the project. As a children’s bookshop schools were her target audience and welcomed any opportunity to work closely with them on any kind of cultural project. She thought the whole thing was great and caringly replaced items that sagged where gravity had taken over. She said the physcodelic hedgehog was her favourite.
My favourite the birds nest or the fox, I have a soft spot for foxes.