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Education Co-ordinator Emily Hedley celebrates the end of the first year of our new learning programme, Pearls of the Sea in this week's blog.

As we come to the end of the first year of Pearls of the Sea learning programme we are preparing for the celebration exhibition which will be on display to the public on Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 June. This exhibition marks the achievements of all the pupils involved and this year we have welcomed over 500 pupils to the gallery. Once here they work with local Artist Educators who specialise in many different art forms from poetry and creative writing to sculpture and printing. 

Pupils from each of the nine participating schools make two visits to the gallery throughout the year. Having two visits is key, as it helps to build up their self-confidence and gives them a sense of ownership of the building and the work they create within it. I regularly see children initially wary of this large new space, of interacting with new people and seeing strange pictures for the first time, but by the end of their two visits they walk around the gallery with such confidence. I’m always surprised by how much they remember, pointing out which artworks have changed and which ones have moved. 

What I love most about Pearls of the Sea is the variety of work produced. Each visit is tailor made to meet the curriculum needs of the school. Teachers work closely with the Artist Educators to produce workshops that stimulate interest and creativity within a given subject and this becomes their starting point for projects back at school.

The final pieces on display have been created with this in mind and you can easily see the inspiration they have taken from the gallery’s exhibitions this year. On display are sunflower sculptures covered in poems inspired by John Bratby, stained glass designs in watercolour and collages inspired by John Piper and many artworks inspired by Hastings and the architecture of the building. It’s the floor to ceiling windows being a constant source of inspiration for pupils who visit the gallery. 

Schools involved in the project this year are West St Leonards Primary Academy, Castledown Primary School, Rye Community Primary School, Rye College, The Baird Primary Academy, Churchwood Primary Academy, Silverdale Primary Academy, Christ Church CE Primary School and Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy. 

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who took part and to all of those who have helped to make the programme a success. Thank you to the teachers whose hard work and dedication has bought together all the work produced to create a final piece for the exhibition, the Artist Educators; Sheridan Quigley, Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, Rosemary Harris, Ed Boxall and Joe Coelho whose inspiration has be invaluable and of course to all the amazing children and young people involved!  

We are grateful to the Magdalen and Lasher Charity, the Lacy Tate Trust, the Friends of Jerwood Gallery, private benefactors and Sir Quentin Blake for their support of the gallery’s desire to continue to offer a dedicated learning programme.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Pearls of the Sea learning programme, click here.


17 June, 2016
Written by Emily Hedley