Alongside this project, known as Prospectus, I have also been assisting in a learning and education project coordinated by Beccy Swaine at Somerset Art Works called Young ProspectUs.
“The aim of Young ProspectUs is to facilitate the opportunity for a small number of young people within Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in Taunton to experience the values of the arts and education, to informally explore the college environment via SAW’s community engagement work.”
I wanted to include a link to Young ProspectUs here on Prospectus because to some extent the idea of ‘experiencing the values of art education’ is a shared aim in both projects. That and whilst participating in Young ProspectUs as a blogger, documenter and assistant I have learnt so much from both the participating artists and relevantly for me, the students themselves. As consequence I have written a lot about what the students and staff have told me that they have learnt and experienced but have written less on my own thoughts and how I too have learnt from participating in it.
From April until May six workshops took place [one a week] at Northfield and Taunton Centre Pupil Referral Units in Taunton. Artists, Jacky Oliver, Karina Thompson, Megan Players, Rick Crane and Jane Mowat ran sessions corresponding to their practices of; metalwork, sewing, sculpting, graphics and wood carving/printmaking. It has been immensely rewarding for me to participate in these and I feel that I have not only learnt new techniques but have also experienced how they are taught and how the artists have adapted to working with the students.
The second phase of the project saw two artists, Karina Thompson and Megan Players return for a second round of workshops at Bridgwater and Taunton College. These sessions were aimed to allow more time to make either a more ambitious or finished piece of work as well as access the facilities within the college. It was always inspiring to see what the students and staff produced, much of which is documented on the Young ProspectUs blog and I felt humbled at the attitude students presented in willing to give every activity a try. It made me realise the importance and value of what we have done some of in Prospectus in trying to learn new things from each other as well as other artists.
One of the most special moments throughout the project for me personally was being taught how to make a pinch pot by a student during Megan’s workshops in the college. Having worked alongside these students over several previous workshops I knew that they were quite shy and sometimes lacking in confidence so it was really rewarding to be shown how to make something from one of them as I had never made a pinch pot before and how they explained and demonstrated the technique to me was excellent. Afterwards I reflected on our time at Huish Episcopi School during Prospectus and realised that perhaps if we had more time that it would have been good to spend a day or an afternoon of our time there working with or learning from the students; we had talked as a group about this idea, but it hadn’t happened. I think given my recent experiences I would have liked to know how students at Huish would have used the space and what they would ask us to make or do. These are thoughts to keep in mind for the future, but I felt that it was important to write this blog post to link the commonalities between Prospectus and Young ProspectUs.