During the spring term Fiona Collins and I mentored a group of year 9/10 students at Selly Park Technology College preparing them for their Bronze Arts Award. Over a period of weeks the students explored a variety of storytelling techniques and organised a performance of stories and riddles within school. The students all came to the Young Storyteller of the Year Competition on 13th March in Birmingham and either performed in the competition or assisted the judges and took part in the deliberation process. The whole day was brilliant – an excellent opportunity to hear professional storytellers, perform stories in a professional theatres and meet other young people interested in storytelling. All our students have now successfully acheived their Bronze Arts Award.
This project took place at the Bridge School with a core group of 14-18 year old students with moderate to severe learning difficulties. The aim was to create and deliver a project to support students on a creative journey. One week was used to introduce us as artists and our artforms, to introduce the idea of art as a way to explore and question as well as self-expression, to learn and experiment with a variety of artforms and skills, all through the key media of storytelling and visual art. A second week focused on our students giving a storytelling performance developed during the first week to groups of primary school children (with a variety of special needs) and mentoring the primary school children on a one to one basis to pass on some of the visual art techniques learned.
This project was a wonderful success according to artists, staff and pupils. As our key contact, Mandy James, Business and Enterprise Co-ordinator put it:
‘The journey our pupils went on through this project was fantastic. They were provided with strategies to develop confidence, develop their communication skills and become teachers themselves. These young people will remember this project for a long time.’
For more details about this project please click here:
Newport is a town layered with story and memory. The canal remembers busier days crowded with boatmen, Chocolate Charlie bringing pocketfuls of sweets back from Cadburys for the local children and harsh winters of frozen barges. Three fish swim on gates, walls and flags, heading towards the King, leaving prosperity in their wake. You may still catch a glipse in a window of Elizabeth Parker in her wedding dress, waiting all her life and beyond for her fiancee. When night falls, Madam Pigott haunts the roads and lanes watchful of her chance to take revenge on any young men out alone.
Throughout September and October I worked with dancer Rose Gordon and choreographer Bettina Strickler on a fantastic ‘Find Your Talent’ and DanceXchange collaboration to celebrate the history, folklore and people of Newport.
We collaborated with several schools and community groups in Newport to gather, combine, retell and celebrate stories of Newport. The project culminated in a fantastic Hallowe’en performances with two marvellous young storytelling tour guides leading audiences around the Madam Piggott exhibition and a school haunted by ghostly dancers.
Project Leaders: Amy Douglas and Michelle O’Connor (visual artist and mosaicist)
Our project was to create a nine metre square wall mural with the The Bridge School at their old site to welcome them to their new school as part of the Hadley Learning Community.
We worked with14 – 17 year old students with a wide range of physical and educational special needs for a week. The theme chosen by the school was the story of the Wrekin Giant. This story was told every morning with the aid of a specially made storysack, the students telling more and more of the story each time. Each day focused on a different aspect of the story and included a large number of wide-ranging activities to keep attention, enthusiasm and to allow opportunity for all children to shine.
For example, one day focused on water. I told a local flood story, and we re-created the flood using lengths of shimmering blue and green material. We then talked about different types of water – puddles, rain, streams, rivers, lakes. With the students inside we threw buckets of water at the window so they could watch the shapes the water made. We went outside and played with trays of water – sketching the shapes the water made when it had a stone dropped in. We added oils to water and made reflective imprints by laying paper on the top. Using wire hoops we made large bubbles and drew the shapes of them. We headed off on a walk to a local pool and looked at all the plants growing around the water and the wildlife in and around the pool. The sketches produced were taken the next day to Jackfield tile museum and used for ideas as our stundents painted tiles which were fired and used in the Welcome Wall.
This was an exciting, successful project helped greatly by the enthusiasm of all the teachers and support staff at the Bridge. The staff led by example, supported us in our ideas and extended the project by follow on work after we had gone.