Stirling Council commissioned me in April of 2011 to develop a project working with the P7 class of East Plean PS. I knew these children well and had been working with them since they were P4 during my artist residency in the Bannockburn cluster of primary schools.
The children were transitioning between primary and high school. East Plean is a small community- one of the outlying villages of Stirling. There is a high rate of unemployment in this area. As part of their transitioning between primary and high school, the class teacher develops a school diary of their time at East Plean PS, and the children pay a visit to the High School- all this assists them with the dramatic change between a small rural primary school and the much larger Bannockburn HS.
In collaboration with Clare Hoare (cultural coordinator) and Mark Hill (class teacher) we developed a portraiture project which would tie in to the children’s learning but which also brought aspiration, creativity and realistic career goals as well as tie in to the Curriculum for Excellence. Over several sessions, the children developed a sense of what portraiture is, and how we represent ourselves to the public tells a lot about who we are. Portraiture and identity are both issues i like to address when working with photography in an educational setting. The children looked at the work of several photographers -namely Richard Avedon’s “Out West’ series and works by August Sander. These works demonstrate the power of the photographer in documenting the human condition honestly but also how the title of a work can affect our reaction towards it.
The children worked with their teacher Mark Hill on developing realistic career goals through questionnaires and diary work. Then they developed costume ideas and poses with myself. The images were shot outdoors against black velvet and the prints here are accompanied by quotes from the children themselves. The children had an exhibition of their work at their school graduation ceremony and were presented with a small print to keep. The larger mounted works were then exhibited at the Macrobert.
Clare, Mark and I were all delighted with the finished works and how well the project had gone. The children were engaged, interested and creative.
The success of this project inspired Clare and myself to collaborate on a funding application and we are delighted to say that we have won a significant amount from Awards for All to develop this project further and deliver it between January and June 2013. We are planning on working across several schools in Stirling including Charter House School which is for young people no longer engaged in formal education.
We are planning to embed realistic aspirational career goals in to this creative project, allow the young people to create work within a safe environment, and we hope to certify this project through my training as an Arts Awards supplier. This will allow the young people to achieve a qualification outwith a formal learning environment.
Below are a selection of images from the project at East Plean PS. I am really hoping that we will be able to reconnect with this group of children (who are now in second year at High School) to see how they are doing and hopefully they will agree to be involved in the project again to see how far their career aspirations have travelled from those last few weeks of Primary School