Children from Ramsgate Arts Primary have been working with artists behind the current thought-provoking exhibition called Banned! at the Turner Contemporary.
Banned! is part of a two-year project led by Sabina Desir, Artistic Director and Creative Producer of the Ramsgate-based Freedom Road Project, that explores the issues of place, belonging and identity that remain prominent in all aspects of contemporary life.
Year 6 pupils were visited by Randolph Matthews who shared with them the story of the colour bar and the experiences of Black American Air Force personnel who served at RAF Manston after the Second World War.
Although they were based in Britain, American laws still applied, and consequently they were treated differently purely because of the colour of their skin.
Randolph shared letters from the time, written by locals speaking out against these laws. Pupils were then asked to create a piece of rap music to summarise what they had learnt.
They had to create the beat, the backing chorus, the vocals and then performed it themselves.
They also discussed empathy and understanding, social justice and equality, environmental awareness, and civic engagement issues generated by the exhibition’s theme.
The discussions were recorded and form a podcast addition to the exhibition.
Next the year group visited the flagship gallery in Margate which has partnered with RAPS on a range of projects over the years.
They explored the exhibition inspired by the USAF personnel. The children met the artist Charlie Evaristo-Boyce who had created the art on display and then they collaborated to screen print their own planes, decorating them in a unique style. The plan is for the planes to be hung above the room, so RAPS young creators will have their efforts on display at the gallery. Fellow artist Richard Birch is also involved with the exhibition.
Sabina said: “We are so pleased to have young people participate and contribute to the project. It is so important that our young people in Thanet have the opportunity to explore the themes of Place, Belonging and Identity especially because of the ethnic demographic is not diverse.
“Learning about people from different backgrounds is culturally enriching and beneficial to all in contemporary life.”
Head of School Nick Budge said: “This is an important exhibition that examines thought-provoking issues. Diversity, equality and tolerance are key themes that our children learn about and Banned! illustrates that ethos extremely well.
“The creative work they did in school and at the gallery in both music and art was excellent and it reinforced our link with Turner Contemporary.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for our children to work face-to-face with artists and to become part of this culturally-important exhibition.”
Turner Contemporary states: “Being classified as an outsider both racially and demographically has placed Sabina in a position of objectivity for researching and presenting this work to the public in a way that highlights our shared values instead of our differences.
“These lesser-known events and accounts of military history, migration and transit deserve attention because they have played a role in shaping British history on a local and national level.”
Banned! can be seen until Monday, May 8. For more information go online to www.turnercontemporary.org