Visiting the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art – part 2

The second schools workshop that Ratna an I sat in on focused on light and shadows. The artist running the workshop had turned the Education Room into a laboratory of light and shadow-related experiments and the atmosphere of the session was one of frenzied exploration!

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A notable thing about both workshops was Becca’s hands-on involvement, getting stuck in with the activities and taking photos as the workshop was happening. Ratna and I talked to her about this and she said she hadn’t always been so directly involved with the sessions, but had gradually become more so as she found it helped to know what artists are like to work with, what individuals have to offer (in terms of skills, approaches, personality), so that when she is booking in schools she really understands who will work well with each group.

The SCVA gets about 400 school visits a year, but each visit is tailored to the requirements of the school. There has been some talk of standardising the offer to schools, but at the moment Becca prefers a bespoke approach, as it ensures that the groups get what they want out of their visit and are far more likely to return. Equally the artists have flexibilty to come up with new ideas and are not repeating the same sessions over and over.

Ratna and I also met the Young Associates, a group of young people that meets weekly at SCVA during term-time. It’s one of the main regular activities that SCVA offer to young people. Most Young Associates are aged between 18 and 25, though there is no strict age limit. The group directs itself – Nell Croose Myhill organises the sessions and can provide materials and support for activities, but it’s up to the group to decide what it wants to do. At the session Ratna and I attended everyone was screenprinting, but other activities have included curating exhibitions, documenting and writing about work, and during the session the group discussed plans for a website.

Nell’s light-touch approach in this session was interesting to witness, it was a really positive thing, in the way that Becca’s hand-on approach with the schools was…

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