Creative nature and Exeter city council are working together with a local school over 18 months to create a playful place in a local community woodland. The children are 14 years old and are involved with this project as part of their Applied Arts GCSE.
We have had a meeting with the school to discuss the project. It went very well considering the tensions that had arisen. Its obvious that the project was not quite what they expected and would not easily conform to the requirements of the students GCSE's. We were very open and honest with them about what we need to make the project work so we have down sized and will now work more intensively with a small group of students and perhaps involve some younger children too.
I am passionate about this project but it is frustrating too it has been many months since I did any work of my own and I seem to be spending many hours in front of the computer. I'm looking forward to the summer when we will begin to install some pieces on the site and the hard work begins to pay off.
This is my first blog so I write with some trepidation. However I feel that reflecting on my work in this way will help me retain my center. Collaborating with Schools presents lots of challenges to the Artist particularly over a long period of time. I hope this blog will make the process more transparent to me so that I can find my way through and remain true to the core of my work.
The project has been running for 7 months now and it has been very frustrating so far as there have been many false starts and fallen hurdles. We are now at a junction in our partnership with the School after they cancelled a session that had been booked for months on the morning of the day. There seems to be a lack of true commitment to this project from the School…I find myself wondering whether they would take it more seriously if they had to pay for the sessions themselves. (the project is externally funded)
The project brief is very open and we have endeavoured to give as much ownership of the project as possible to the children. However this amount of freedom seems alien to the School and the children. I feel that perhaps there is a fear both of the potential of this freedom and the responsibility of it.
There is a tension between the emergent way many artists prefer to work and the goal driven outcomes orientated world of the School which I find fascinating. How can we learn from each other? What can be created through finding the balance between such opposing worlds?