> It struck us how willing the children were to collaborate, share and compromise…
Some children were very clear ‘this is my half’ when doing their paired work, but the majority readily found common ground. Some worked extremely collaboratively. Their pieces of artwork were made through conversation. They thought about the whole thing together, planning the whole the design. It helped that they knew it was going into the exhibition. Suddenly it was not about ‘ownership’ and taking it home! The children realised that the work could be a shared community piece.
> Is there anything you think exhibition visitors should be mindful of or are you happy for them to explore and find their own meaning?
I’d like visitors to just explore and enjoy. I’m happy for people to take what they find and interpret it in their own way, but there are elements which perhaps require a little explanation to understand. The symbolic abstract work has some profound qualities. Simple abstract shapes and lines (e.g. in the drawings) tell stories of journeys and places. The movement of marks and lines has been purposeful, deliberately made to indicate the difference in freedoms before and during lockdown. The children really took pleasure in the making all of the different elements in the work, and I hope that comes across to the visitors.
> What do you think about how we can avoid letting our expectations or assumptions potentially limit children and young people?
Creativity is a set of habits, it’s for everyone. We are all born artists, but too often we are not given the scope to explore and develop creative skills, and those innate abilities are limited or lost. Throughout my career I have worked with young people, both as an art teacher and a visual artist, and I have seen first-hand the tremendous capacity that students have to create. As we raise the profile of creativity, with projects like ‘Story of Place,’ we encourage more people to appreciate children’s artwork and what they are capable of achieving.
> What new habit would you encourage everyone to embrace to feed their creativity?
Play! Experiment with anything you have to hand! A piece of paper can become a sculpture. Paint with coffee and a cotton tip. You can draw on a steamed-up window. Art doesn’t have to be expensive or exclusive. Value process over product and don’t be afraid to make a mess – it doesn’t matter what is looks like as long as you enjoyed doing it! Value creative play, experimentation and getting hands-on with lots of different materials.