Three is the magic number

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery Learning Co-ordinator, Lizzie Bushby, ends her maternity cover this week. She reflects on the top three things she has enjoyed about the role.

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I joined the Footsteps into Art programme as maternity cover last September. The nine months since then have been full of activity and have passed in a blur. This week is my final week.

Here are my top 3 things about the role:

The Footsteps into Art Exhibition

Since the workshops started in November, I have had the exhibition in mind. I was really excited about displaying the wonderful work the children were doing and celebrating Footsteps into Art with the wider Gallery audience. At the same time I felt quite daunted by the process, as I hadn’t been involved in curating and installing an exhibition before.

When June rolled around, the work started in earnest. I really enjoyed putting together broad themes, gathering artwork into groups which visually looked good and writing the information panels. A colleague helped me to pin work in the cabinets, and I spent a happy couple of days tweaking, drilling, sanding and painting until I was happy with the display.

I am so proud of the exhibition, and have had some wonderful feedback from visitors. It’s on display until 19th August so if you haven’t already seen it, please pop into the Gallery!

Environmental Art Workshop

Inspired by the work of Anthony Goldsworthy, I wanted to introduce environmental art to the programme so I booked an environmental artist for a Leeds City Academy workshop in May. One sunny afternoon, we left the Gallery for Chancellor’s Court armed with just a few long sticks for frames. The students found materials including pine cones, twigs, daisies and gravel, and used them to create thoughtful and detailed transient works of art.

Check out the photograph here. Can you spot which works in the Gallery were used as inspiration?

Working with student volunteers

The student volunteers are invaluable in running the programme. It has been great to meet and work with a range of students from power lifters to photographers.
I have really appreciated their support in preparing and running the workshops, and have enjoyed getting to know them.

If you are a University of Leeds student and are interested in volunteering during the 2017-18 academic year, please contact c.evans@leeds.ac.uk.

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Insight from a Volunteer

Third Year Graphic & Communication Design student, Camila Castenada, writes about her experiences as a volunteer on the Footsteps into Art programme.

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The volunteering experience with ‘Footsteps Into Art’ has been one of a kind. Working with children has that overall feeling of bliss and enthusiasm, watching them explore different techniques and mediums is a refreshing view, as they express themselves with fearless curiosity and freedom.
It was a privilege to be part of such a caring and special team in charge of the program. The children always seemed happy to see us, they were kind and welcoming. Spending time with them and the teachers not only gave me the opportunity to see how art education for this young minds unfolds, but it also allowed me to learn so much more about the field.
The workshops at the gallery were great. The children always seemed to have a happy time at the university. The visiting artists were always prepared and had so much to share with the children. The techniques and lessons were engaging and creative, providing a grounding scenario as an escapade into the visual arts, and hopefully helped to seed an interest as a hobby or vocation for their future. Additionally the visit to the primary school in Little London was a rewarding experience, because it was nice to see that they had a space dedicated to their artistic practice and, and it was also gratifying to carry out a workshop in such a playful atmosphere especially since this is their everyday context.
I am grateful and honoured of being part of such a great volunteering program, and wish the best of luck to its future and succeeding teams.

Running our own workshop

2017 Education Intern, Dominika Blazewicz writes about running a workshop for schools with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

SABG_BubblecollagefromFootstepspupils_2017Together with Penny, a volunteer artist, we were asked to design a short but enjoyable workshop for the Carousel Workshop on 26th January. The idea behind the Carousel Day was to have four one-hour long workshops to really engage the pupils and give them a taster of using and learning about different types of art and materials that can be used in just one day.

Penny and I never ran a workshop before – we were always the ones supporting the artists and children in sessions. As we would be working alongside artists, the pressure to create a workshop that would be highly enjoyable, was real. As the school theme was Harry Potter, we decided to go with the idea of ‘potion painting’ to explore the pupils’ relationship with colour. We did not want to make potions to drink; rather, we wanted to explore how a potion might look in 2 dimensional form, like a painting, using a technique which we called ‘potion painting’. In reality, it was all about bubble painting and using straws instead of brushes, which all fit within the theme of mark-making, as well as Harry Potter.

Before telling the students about being wizards and ‘potion painting’, we discussed the art of John Hoyland and Eric Atkinson in the Gallery, their use of colour and colour representation in their work, and explained how each artist had changed their preferred style of painting following a significant event which had changed them and their attitudes. This led to a discussion with the children on how different colours can affect our moods and feelings differently, i.e. warm, bright colours may make us feel a bit more energetic, and darker colours could represent mystery or sadness.

We also did a breathing exercise, where we asked the pupils to visualise their favourite colour, think of all the things that are their favourite colour, and really notice how their favourite colour makes them feel. This acted as a warm-up for the potion painting, where the students had to think about the ingredients of their potion as colours and how the colours represented what the use of their potion (we asked them to think about their potion in relation to colour and to give their potion painting a title which also gave an indication of what the potion would do if used).

The hour flew by; students really seemed to engage with the workshop, which was evident in the laughter, dirty hands, dirty aprons and generally positive atmosphere.

Some of the feedback we received on our session:

– The teacher was especially pleased with activities linked to the topic

– Colours can also convey feelings

– Using paint and fairy liquid can make nice pictures with bubbles

– I liked making bubbles with liquid and paint

– I had fun today

– I learnt about colour and emotion

– I enjoyed it all because it was so fun

Overall, we really enjoyed ‘training our wizards’, and despite our nerves and running around before the session, we are very much looking forward to running another workshop in the nearest future. Next time, if Penny and I were to do a similar workshop, we would make it last longer, as this would give us an opportunity to reflect on the pupils’ work with the pupils, and to even further discuss their relationship with colour.

Insight from a Volunteer

Emily Gibbons, a volunteer with the Footsteps into Art programme, writes about her experiences working with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

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When I first signed up to volunteer with the Footsteps into Art programme I was both nervous and excited. The role was completely alien to all of my previous work experience, and it was quite a daunting prospect to be working with children and documenting the day through photography which I hadn’t done in a professional setting before. My first day volunteering with the Footsteps into Art programme was during Brudenell’s visit to the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery on the 9th December, and overall I think the day was valuable to both the students and to us as volunteers.

The primary school students were split into two groups and they rotated between the craft workshop and the workshop in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. One of the main reasons I applied for the voluntary role was in order to gain experience of working within a gallery, and the 9am start definitely helped with that mindset! We had just finished preparing the workspace and materials for the textile workshop when the students arrived and they were soon making use of all the felt and double-sided tape. During the first workshop I spent much of my time talking to the children about their pieces and these conversations were much more rewarding than I was expecting, particularly one student who told me about her art project at home. What really struck me was the high level of engagement with the textiles from all of the students, and it made the workshop feel very rewarding.

My favourite thing about the second workshop was seeing the students looking at the pieces on display in the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery, and being introduced to a local history of art which I think is so important to be exposed to. The idea of describing colours was also really interesting because personally I think there’s a strong relationship between words and images which is underexplored, and many of the students became really creative with their descriptions. It was refreshing to see their creativity unhindered by any embarrassment or self-policing many artists face. I benefited greatly from this workshop as well, as I had my first opportunity to photograph the children and their work and the limitations imposed on this were interesting to work within.

Overall, the feedback I received when talking to the primary school students was positive, with many of them saying they enjoyed the workshop and would like to return, and also asking about the university and my own art course. I think the volunteering role is incredibly beneficial to gain experience of working with children and within a gallery and I’m looking forward to the next visit!

First Workshop of the Year

2017 Education Intern Dominika Blazewicz reflects on her first Footsteps into Art workshop with The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery.

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On November 17th, Footsteps into Art ran not only its very first workshop of the year, but also its very first workshop for secondary school pupils. A group of year 9’s from Leeds City Academy met us in the Parkinson court for a two hour afternoon workshop with a freelance artist, Vinny James. Although most felt intimated by the building, they quickly settled in and quite happily got on with the workshop.
As a new intern, I was slightly nervous before the session, mainly because I did not know what to expect. What, or rather, who, calmed mine (and Lizzie’s, who was also new to her role) nerves, were Dominique, last year’s intern, and Penny, experienced Footsteps into Art’s volunteer. Both of them seemed very relaxed and excited about meeting the pupils, which helped tremendously.
The workshop was all about fabric and bold colours. After a short introduction to the gallery and general workshop outline, Vinny asked the students to pick a felt sheet, few scraps of material, scissors and let their imagination and fingers do the rest, with very interesting results.
The class was split into four groups, ensuring that each group also had a chance to have a go at creating a stop-motion animation using even more pieces of fabric on a black canvas. Each group came up with a completely different theme and storyline, such as season changes or people around them. All students enjoyed making the animation, especially when they were able to see the results of their work on a laptop at the end of the workshop.
As my role was more to supervise and support the artists during the workshop rather than delivering it, I went around the tables and chatted with the pupils, gaining an insight into their art pieces and general interest in art. Some struggled to come up with ideas for their individual felt sheet piece, as they were not used to think about art in such free and abstract terms. Without a clear objective in mind, and never working with felt before, some felt a bit lost. However, the students ended up helping and supporting each other, and after getting used to the presence of the artist and other workshop assistants, as well as becoming more relaxed, they created some lovely compositions, as seen on the Gallery website.
Overall, the afternoon, although very intense, went fast. According to our post-workshop evaluation sheets, all students enjoyed the workshop, and all students could not wait to attend another one next year, with the things we could improve on being, “Free food would be nice” and “More time for the workshop”.

Meet the Volunteers

Footsteps into Art offers work experience, volunteer opportunities and a paid internship for University of Leeds students.

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This year a team of 21 student volunteers will support the Footsteps into Art workshops by working with children on tasks, taking photographs of their artwork and collecting feedback which will contribute to the project evaluation. These students are eager to work with children to share their passion about creativity and art and to gain valuable experience working in an art gallery.

Beyond their passion for art, they’re a varied bunch! We have volunteers from China, Canada and New Zealand, as well as Manchester, Newcastle and the Isle of Man. They come from a range of departments across the University including Biochemistry, French and Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. The team of volunteers includes a power lifter, a former professional salsa dancer, and someone who completed the Three Peaks Challenge earlier this year.

Through the work based experiences offered by Footsteps into Art, students will add to their already considerable experience by making a difference to the local community, and developing transferrable skills including team work, problem solving, communication, time management and adaptability.

New Faces for Year Two

Find out more about the new team and upcoming workshops for the second year of Footsteps into Art.

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The second year of the Footsteps into Art programme has started with some new members in the team. Some of you will know that Claire is expecting a baby so I am providing her maternity cover with the support of Dominika who has just started her education internship in the gallery.

We are both very excited about the forthcoming programme of art workshops, especially about working with Leeds City Academy, our first secondary school, for the first time this month. They will be exploring textile art with artist Vinny James, who will introduce techniques for weaving and making rag rugs to create individual wall hangings which can be joined to make one large wall hanging.

In December, the primary schools that Claire worked with last year will return to the art gallery for the fourth time to explore textile art with Vinny James, and look at colour with Laura Wilson from the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery. In the New Year they will come back to explore mark making with myself, Dominika and another artist called Kasia Breska.

Next week we will meet student volunteers who will support the workshops over the next year.  We will spend some time getting to get to know them and then provide training for the role. If you are interested in this, you can find out more on the University of Leeds Volunteer Hub.

Other than this, we are busy preparing for the workshops by getting to know the gallery and the collections, meeting members of the wider team and planning sessions. It has been quite a busy few weeks, and we are looking forward to meeting the pupils from all the schools involved in Footsteps into Art!