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In this week's blog, Education Project Assistant, Emily Hedley, tells us more about the gallery’s START programme.

Over the past year we have invited 11 schools to the gallery as part of the START programme. Each school has had two tailor made visits to the gallery throughout the year. Their visits are devised by the class teacher and an established artist, and are used as inspiration for classwork back at school.

This year the students have been given the opportunity to explore their learning outcomes in a creative and inspirational environment, looking at works by Basil Beattie, Marlow Moss, Alfred Wallis and paintings in the Jerwood Collection. This year the groups were encouraged to discuss the artworks and come up with various adjectives to describe what they see, which can then be used as the basis of a poem, song or adventure story.

I'm often confronted with wonderfully honest questions and statements during their visits, such as ‘Why is this art?', 'I could do that' and 'Why would someone paint someone naked?’ They are all fantastic and valid questions to ask and they are often the questions adults ask themselves when looking at an artwork but may not wish to articulate. What we aim to achieve with the START programme is to empower the children to question everything they see, as this provokes creativity and debate. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to looking at art.

What I enjoy the most about working with the children is that if I sometimes don't understand, or appreciate an artwork myself, once I have talked it through with a group of children, I often return to my own imagination which enables me to see the works in a new light.

We have just had our START celebration weekend, where we have transformed the Studio into an exhibition of the work created by the children over the last year. This was a chance for them to share the work they had made with their peers, teachers, family and the public. The display of their work will run until Wednesday 9 July.

We are very pleased to announce that the gallery has secured extra funding from Magdalen and Lasher, to invite a further five schools to participate in Year 3 of the programme. I am really looking forward to working with the new schools and helping more children engage with art in the next academic year.

03 July, 2014
Written by Emily Hedley