Maker Stories: Sarah Christie, 14/8/17
As an artist, the opportunity to spend two days working intensively with 40 school kids from Key Stage 3 doesn’t come every day. And for the students, the chance to spend two days out of normal activities and concentrating on creative work isn’t the norm either. At Dormers Wells High School in London we were lucky enough to do just that. Inspired by the school’s garden, and working closely with the brilliant art department there, we had the kids outside, drawing from life, followed by two full days of sustained making with clay. Along the way, we introduced them to some new materials and techniques which they can use and adapt in future projects.
We worked with clay, building big and ambitious vessels over the course of a day, interspersed with demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to think ahead to surface decoration. The second day focused on hand-painting and decoration with underglaze materials, using drawings the kids had made themselves from life as inspiration and source material.
It was exciting to see all the kids so engaged with materials and ideas, and able to stick with something for a whole day, developing their skills, patience, and ideas. At the end of the first day, some even stayed after school to continue working. Thanks to the brilliant resourcefulness and enthusiasm of the teachers, we were able to work with lots of children at once, and work ambitiously, encouraging them to develop their ideas and skills.
One of the best parts of the workshops was simply getting the kids outside and looking closely, drawing from life, and seeing their garden as a source of inspiration for many areas of their studies. I hope to have left them with some new skills and techniques, but also with an awareness of how art and creativity feed into other subjects. Working on this project differed in many ways from my regular teaching, which is in an art and science context in higher education. Yet, an understanding of how art meets other subjects through creative thinking, problem solving, communicating ideas, and cultural expression, is important at all levels of education. I hope that the students from Dormers Wells who took part in this project will see art and making in their own futures, whatever paths they decide to follow.