Basic skills in construction, pottery and design are helping Ramsgate Arts Primary School pupils create a special piece of artwork for their town.
The latest in a series of workshops with partner Turner Contemporary at Margate saw the children discuss and create a range of ideas they would like to see in their home town including a new library and a hotel for homeless people complete with tiered bunk beds and a central food store.
They also learnt how to design, saw and hammer wooden structures to create a possible living space using timber, trellis and poles, create fixtures and fittings for it including a roof terrace and a toilet for their space using clay and playdough, and they directed an architect to sketch ideas for the town including an outdoor leisure area with a range of attractions and amenities.
The regular sessions at school and at the gallery are part of the Pioneering Places East Kent project and the nationwide Great Place scheme.
Project Manager Josephine Martin said: “The children are the leaders – they are making the decisions and our workshops are enabling them to be better informed and understand the creative process more. It is about helping them explore a range of possibilities.
“They demonstrated amazing collaborative work during the latest sessions and were totally absorbed in what they were doing.
“They have made great strides during the project so far and we are looking forward to how their work develops in the coming months – they have even thrown up some fresh ways of looking at this project that we are discussing.”
Throughout the three year project, launched in 2018, the children are working with Turner Contemporary Navigators Jo Ursell and Lucy Pettet, the children’s chosen artist Babalola Yusuf, and Heritage Researcher Libby Scarlett who works alongside pupils in school each week.
The children – known as Young Arts and Heritage Leaders – will drive the project until its conclusion in 2020, collaborating with Turner Prize winning collective Assemble who led the recent two-day focus session. It is planned that a major new artwork will be commissioned and installed near Ramsgate harbour.
Through their work in the unique initiative they are exploring the heritage associated with the Royal Harbour and finding out what Ramsgate means to them and to its residents, connecting communities through the stories they uncover.
Jo Ursell Turner Contemporary Navigator: “The children come to this project with no pre-conceived ideas and fresh eyes and imaginations.
“They are learning skills to enable them to inform adults about the work that they want to see as the final piece – it is a learning journey for them.”
TC Navigator Lucy Pettet added: “We are enabling the children to discover what materials can be used and what they can create with them. This understanding will help them formulate their ideas further.”
Year 3 pupil Willow from Year 3 said: “This is exciting and interesting and we are all learning new things to help us when we make more art. I like the idea of there being a hotel for homeless people in Ramsgate.”
Ramsgate Arts Primary Head of School Nick Budge praised the long-term arts project. He said: “It is important for us as an arts primary school to be involved in this ground-breaking concept. Our children are really enthralled at the possibilities and each week they explore new creative ideas.
“Their skills are increasing noticeably and their learning focus is being considerably broadened.
“To lead a major art project in their own town is something very special.”
At the project launch Karen Eslea, head of learning at the gallery, said the young artists “have tremendous capacity to inspire all of us and create great places.” She added: “Giving children the opportunity to take the lead and be creative is proven to enhance their wellbeing, their confidence and their listening and speaking skills. It is an integral part of the work we are doing with our community and I can’t wait to see what the Young Arts and Heritage Leaders do next.”