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Q&A with Education Project Assistant, Emily Hedley  

What is your role at the gallery?

I am the Education Project Assistant, I co-ordinate all the educational activities and projects at the gallery. Currently we have the START project, which involves children from eleven schools across Hastings and St Leonards, who make two visits to the gallery during the academic year. The programme includes children and young people from both primary and secondary schools many of who may not have visited a gallery before. They work with an artist in both sessions and also produce work in the classroom inspired by their visits. We then celebrate the work produced with a special event, where children and their families can see the work displayed in the studio.

Little People’s Jerwood Adventure is another project I’m working on at the moment, which is an early years project. We invite pre-school children and their families to the gallery for a two-hour adventure involving music, dance, play and creative artistic activities. The aim is to encourage children to actively explore the building from an early age. The workshops are advertised through the children’s centres in the local area. Some of these centres work with under privileged families who may not necessarily have the opportunity to visit the gallery.

Little People’s Jerwood Adventure continued this week. Can you tell us about how this project developed?

The gallery applied for some specific funding in order to put together Little People’s Jerwood Adventure. We received an Artswork Challenge Seed Fund from a charity named Artswork, who are working collaboratively with the Earlyarts network to encourage and build relationships between early years children and arts organisations in the South East. We worked with the local children’s centres on developing the project and approached artist, Ed Boxall, to aid us in delivering interactive and creative sessions at the gallery.

What happened in this week’s session, what was the adventure?

Two little pebbles from Hastings beach go on an adventure around the gallery. They borrow one of Alfred Wallis’ boats and go sailing from room to room meeting various different creatures and characters along the way. There is a lot of singing and dancing. Ed Boxall, the artist, sings about the different creatures and at one point the children become octopuses! The pebbles then hop back on the boat and sail down to the studio. Ed and I set up the studio, recreating the boat the pebbles borrowed and the children climb up a ladder to get on to the deck before doing lots of painting and using cardboard and all sorts of different materials to make boat related items.

What is your highlight from this particular session?

I played a little bit more this session and got stuck in and helped make all sorts of different things. I helped one of the children, Emily (who happens to have the same name as me) make a sculpture of a boat for her Dad, as he likes boats. It was really great just to get messy with the children and make lots of stuff. This week was heavily influenced by the Alfred Wallis display, so boats were the main source of inspiration for the children. Previously we’ve had volcanoes and all sorts.

Are there any more adventures scheduled for the future?

Yes, there will be another Little People’s Jerwood Adventure on Monday 17 March (time TBC). The story changes every time because Ed adapts the narrative, taking into account what we currently have on display. Sometimes on the day Ed will have a particular idea, so the session is often free flowing and spontaneous. I would encourage those with pre-school children, whether you have been before or not, to come along and see what the next adventure will be.