Great Art Quest
“Each year Great Art Quest introduces children from 16 primary schools in the UK to the visual arts by partnering them with local galleries, professional artists and storytellers.
Great Art Quest works in high-need areas and schools taking part in Great Art Quest are specially selected based on Ofsted reports and local knowledge.
For many of the children taking part in Great Art Quest this will be their first experience of visual arts in a professional gallery setting and Great Art Quest is designed to have a transformative impact on children’s academic achievements and self confidence.
Following visits to their local gallery and workshops with artists and storytellers, Great Art Quest culminates in a perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity to exhibit their work in a professional gallery.”
Great Art Quest, The Prince’s Foundation for the Arts 2012.
I am currently working with four schools from North Edinburgh on the Great Art Quest. I am collaborating with storyteller and musician Marion McKenney to develop the schools workshops and visits to the Queen’s Gallery, at Holyrood Palace who are leading the project through their education officer Alison Campbell.
It has been hard work, bringing together all parties to develop ideas that can be delivered over two sessions in the schools, in an art form where these skills will be easily transferable to the teaching staff to have the confidence to run the project again on their own. There has been much planning in order to direct each school to specific art works in the collection, to help them focus and learn what can be achieved in their classes. I am delivering workshops in casting, paper making, portrait photography and painting which will produce a diverse exhibition and teach new skills to both children and teaching staff. To achieve this, each child was given a sketchbook during their Gallery visit with a series of questions, looking specifically at various art forms and pieces form the collection. They will use their sketchbooks back at school to record their creative progress, sketch out ideas, and write about their experience of working on their project.
I am posting some of the pictures of the children visiting the Gallery. Having the opportunity to talk with them about Van Dyck, Lorenzo Lotto, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrand, Faberge, symbolism in painting, looking for stories within the art works, the histories of certain pieces- to teach them to question what they are looking at doesn’t feel like work at all! It is an utter joy to see them, with their sketch books, navigating the gallery looking to answer the questions they have been set through drawing and writing. To have the opportunity to sit and listen to Marion play her harp and engage them in stories is quite a magical experience and it makes other visitors (and staff) stop and listen.
We have just started in the schools this week and yesterday one of the teachers sent me an email which I have posted here. It’s by far the best part of my job when a truly collaborative project comes together- there are lots of partners in this project- the Gallery, myself, the storyteller, the teaching staff and the children. It takes a huge amount of planning and thinking to ensure all parties are considered.
I hope to be able to post some of the art works created by the children over the coming few weeks- they will be exhibiting their works at Holyrood Palace in the New Year which is exciting not only for them but also for me! The exhibition will take time to plan;it won’t just have their art works on display it will include quotes from the children and teaching staff, excerpts from writing they will be doing with Marion, and photographs of them working on their project.