School Partnerships: The Art of Identity

At the end of January 2014 Manchester Museum played host to two out of the three partner schools as part of our ‘Children & the Arts’ Start programme: The Art of Identity. Derby High School and Wardle Academy visited the Museum with their Year 8 students on 23rd and 28th January respectively to take part in a variety of activities around the topic of Identity.

The ‘Children & the Arts’ Start programme works with arts venues around the UK to foster new partnerships with their local schools.  As a result Start has given three Manchester schools the motivation, means and opportunity to engage their students in a series of creative experiences outside of the school environment (at the Museum) in order to use these experiences back in school. Students from each school will work with a creative practitioner to create a final piece of artwork that will go on display in Manchester Museum in the summer.

portraitEach school begins their Start project with a whole year group visit to the Museum to introduce them to the project and explore the topic of Identity. The starting point for the project is centered on our Greaco-Roman Mummy Portraits, which we hope will inspire the students to consider how identity can be presented in the past and the impact of multi-cultural traditions on individuals and groups.

For the Enrichment Day, the Museum designed a variety of different workshops, sessions and activities to complement the collection and examine different facets of identity. In our Celebrities and Shabtis session, students determined how identity can be defined by particular objects and what these might say about individuals. Whereas in our CSI Athens workshop students used objects to determine who was most likely to have committed a fictional crime. Students were also engaged in on-gallery discussion with our curator – Campbell Price – about how representative ancient Egyptian art might be and if it might depict ‘real’ people. We had a print-maker, Alan Birch, who took self-portraits that the students had drawn themselves and demonstrated how to create prints of these using a printing press (you can view further examples here). We also encouraged student to consider animal identity and how humans classify the natural world and challenged them to make their own Figurines as part of our Fragmentary Ancestors temporary exhibition.

A creative practitioner was also assigned to each school and led a workshop linked to the Greaco-Roman Portraits with students who would be involved in creating the final artwork back at school. These sessions were unique to the practitioner and tailored to suit the needs of the individual school and the supporting subjects that were defined at the project outset.

The two Enrichment Days proved to be a great success, with some great feedback from both teachers and feedback – some of which I’ve included here (see below). It was a great way to involve the school and their students during the start of the project, and now each school will work with their creative practitioner and a set of students to create their final artwork for Museum display. These students will be returning to the Museum for a second visit over the course of the school year, so watch out for more posts about it!

Students at Derby Academy:
71% of students said that they had enjoyed the activities of the day. 35% said they would visit the Museum with family and friends, with another 43% saying they might come back.

Students at Wardle Academy:
50% of students said that they had enjoyed their visit and 50% said they would come back to the Museum with family and friends.

Some of the teachers’ comments reflect the quality of the workshops:

  • “I thought this was very educational – lots of learning opportunities” – Derby High Teacher on the Animal World session
  • “…developed thinking skills and team skills.” – Derby High Teacher on CSI Athens workshop
  • “All children engaged, constantly asking questions. Liked the pace and engagement of Campbell’s talk” – Derby High Teacher on the Egyptian Gallery discussion
  • “Pupils loved making the figurines…well linked to the topic.” – Derby High Teacher on the Fragmentary Ancestors activity
  • “An excellent, well organised day. Great to see our children so switched on and thinking!” – Wardle Academy teacher
  • “Great to handle real objects. Good link with present back to the past. Pupils very engaged and reflecting on the use of objects and meanings” – Wardle Academy teacher on Celebrities and Shabtis
  • “Very engaging for students – totally absorbing” – Wardle Academy teacher on the print-making workshop

PHOTOGRAPHS OF ACTIVITIES

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5 thoughts on “School Partnerships: The Art of Identity

  1. Pingback: Identity at Manchester Museum | Alan Birch

  2. Pingback: Identity Blog. | Alan Birch

  3. We’re really glad you were able to be a part of it, Alan! It is down to your skill and enthusiasm that the students were ale to achieve so much in such a short space of time. Looking forward to the next ones! :)
    Take Care

  4. Pingback: Egypt revisited. | Alan Birch

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