Down Our Street Project

20 September 2013

An overview of the recent Down Our Street project by RBSA's Learning and Project Coordinator, Natalie Osborne

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As many of you will know, the RBSA is committed to art education through a variety of activities, such as spring and summer school programmes, family friendly workshops, free art demonstrations and funded projects with schools. Since many of our school projects take place at different times throughout the year and involve work both on and off site, it can be difficult for those not involved to understand the type of work carried out and the progress made by the students involved. So, here is a brief insight into one of our recent projects:

Down Our Street was a school craft project that was inspired by the ‘Down Our Street’ exhibition in the Craft Gallery earlier this year, which was funded by the Bryant Trust and Birmingham City Council’s Next Generation Fund. The aim of the project was to encourage primary and secondary school students to learn new craft skills and to consider their local environment, cultural venues and communities as art topics.

Through a series of visits to the RBSA Gallery and artist-led workshops back at school, each pupil and student produced their own artwork using craft skills such as ceramics and textiles. Alongside this, one of our groups from Brookfields Primary used their work to gain an Arts Award Discover certificate, and our group from Moseley Secondary used theirs to achieve a Bronze Arts Award.

Overall, the project has involved RBSA staff members, such as myself; Craft Gallery exhibitor, Amos Denton; local Jewellery School student, Hayley Beckley; RBSA artists Cynthia Pearson and Paul Hipkiss; over one-hundred pupils and students; and approximately six teachers. It has included an exhibition of school work in the Gallery’s ground floor exhibition space and a celebratory open event for many of those who took part. The range of artwork created includes drawings, photographs, ceramic tiles, and textile houses.

The impact of all this hard work and activity is clear. Every pupil and student who took part has thought more about what their local area and the RBSA Gallery mean to them; they have learnt new craft skills that they do not normally get the chance to explore at school, and they all feel more confident in their artistic talent as a result. Some of the feedback we received supports this and shows clearly how important the RBSA’s work is in helping to support the local artists of the future:

'It was very artistic and fascinating' - Daniel, Brookfields Primary

'It made me think that one day I will be an artist' - Hasan, Brookfields Primary.

'...it is reassuring how hard the RBSA works to place art into an education environment as the odds are really stacked against schools at the moment.' - Amos Denton, Craft Gallery exhibitor and project workshop tutor.