BLOG: Tees Valley Museums Making a Mark

15 February 2020

BLOG: Tees Valley Museums Making a Mark

By Liz Vine, Outreach/Education Development Officer, Kirkleatham Museum

Kirkleatham Museum is working in partnership with Riverdale Primary School, Redcar and local artist Deb Covell to develop and deliver Arts Award Explore for the first time. Planning for the project began in the summer term of 2019 and the school planned a full term’s work around the project. This has included a visit to Kirkleatham Museum by 50 pupils from year 3 and 5 classes to meet and work with the artist. During the visit the children worked with Deb on producing part of a large installation as well as making their own pieces of work. These individual artworks were displayed in the exhibition alongside the artist work, which ran for a month from 9th January.

The students and their families were invited to a special viewing of the exhibition, which will contribute towards part D of the Arts Award. As this is our first Arts Award Explore, the Tees Valley Museums Group NPO funded mentoring for both the museum team and the teacher.

This has been a new way of working for the museum, the artist and the school. The museum education team worked closely with the school’s Art Co-ordinator to develop and plan a programme that would meet the needs of the children, the curriculum and the Explore Award. Including the children’s artwork as part of a professional exhibition not only gave a purpose to the Arts Award and the children’s work, but will potentially expand the audience for the museum and the artist.

“Today was amazing especially when Deb told me my artwork of her is amazing because she is an actual artist and is successful and someone famous has bought her work. It meant the world to me.” One of the children taking part

I was surprised about how excited and enthusiastic the children have been working on this project – especially as it has been continued across 2 terms. The visit to the museum included a Q&A session with both the artist and the museum learning team. The questions were insightful and showed that there had been considerable thought and research done before their visit.  The quality of the children’s work is impressive.

“This links with our new curriculum. Local area is something Y3 are learning about and the local artist Deb Covell being the focus, so it was a perfect link between the two.” Art Co-ordinator

I have also been pleasantly surprised that the artist has been keen from the beginning that the children’s work should form part of her exhibition.

Delivering an Explore Award for over 50 young people as part of their school work is a challenge for both the school and the museum staff supporting them.  This project would not have been successful without the full commitment of the school’s Head as well as the enthusiasm of the Art Co-ordinator. 

With both the museum education team and the schools staff having very full programmes of work, the support from Jane Gray, as Arts Award advisor and mentor, has been invaluable.  Jane has guided us in developing the programme to ensure that all the requirements will be met and is continuing to support us through the moderation process... all the time maintaining awareness of our other commitments.