The Gallery is currently in development phase for a new primary school programme. Artist Yara El-Sherbini and Education Curator Selina Levinson have been devising a new model for working in local primary schools. Over the past six months, this has involved researching good practice, visiting other art education organisations, galleries, biennales as well as meeting education specialists and practitioners.
From this research the Gallery has determined that it is essential that the artist works with the ‘community’ of the school to include the children, teaching staff and parents. Within the context of the primary school, the Gallery is developing a longer-term, and whole school approach to create a sustainable engagement with the arts. However, new ideas and a structure for working were tested out in a 5 week mini-residency Jan-Feb 2011. Evaluation of this programme will lead into the start of a one year Artist in Residence programme September 2011.
Over a period of 5 weeks El-Sherbini, supported by artist Ella Phillips, worked with the children, staff, and parents of The Hermitage School creating a series of playful word searches, which reflected and engaged with contemporary issues significant to the community of the school. These ranged from identity, culture, popular culture and their local environment of Wapping.
Each week word searches were placed on an events board in the school foyer, and the school newspaper The Hermitage Times. The participatory nature of the word searches actively engaged children, staff and parents with the project.
A final word search was collaboratively made titled Wapping is Locked, which will be placed within the context of the local free newspaper; East End Life, to be ‘played’ by the local community.
By using this recognisable format of the word search, those involved had fun, developed awareness in contemporary arts practice and what art can be, considered making work in the public realm. New audiences were engaged through accessibility and game play. It also served to develop literacy skills, and verbal communication skills for the children.
"It was a way of expressing ourselves through the wordsearch" – Mohammed
"When I first met you [the artists] I thought art was just painting and drawing, now I know it can be games as well" – Caitlin
Yara El-Sherbini playful interdisciplinary practice straddles live art, interventions, video and installations, often using recognisable formats within contemporary popular culture (Trivial Pursuit, Universality Challenge) to explore knowledge production and knowledge as commodity.
Read more about Yara El-Sherbini’s practice
To download the final East End Life word search click here