Artsmark School Waycroft Academy Supported by Bristol Culture

As an Artsmark Partner, Bristol Culture champions the arts and supports local schools providing a quality cultural education for their pupils.

During this academic year 2017-18 Bristol Museum & Art Gallery has worked in partnership with eight local schools to provide Artsmark Journey support. The museum’s Radical Clay project provided practical in-school ceramic art activities and museum visits for schools taking part.

The project was linked with the temporary museum exhibition Radical Clay: Teaching with the greatest potters of the 1960s; a collection of studio pottery created to loan to Bristol schools in the 1960s. The original collection aimed to invest in children’s creativity by showing them something to aspire to. The collection includes work by some of the leading potters of the 20th century including Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew, Lucy Rie and Hans Coper.  It was lent to local schools to inspire children from ordinary backgrounds, showing them examples of the very best in craftsmanship.

Funding was sought to revive some of the original aims of the ceramics loan collection. The museum learning team approached schools in priority neighbourhoods known to have had little contact with Bristol Culture over the last 3 years.

Year 5 and 6 pupils took part in an in-school pottery tutorial with a professional potter. The emphasis was on practical, creative, hands-on learning in a medium which pupils may otherwise have little exposure to. The workshop included techniques and styles featured in the exhibition, such as coiling clay, slip trailing and stencilling motifs. There were ceramics objects made in similar styles which the children were able to handle. Pupils then visited the Radical Clay exhibition, with a contribution made towards the cost of coach travel, to connect their own experience to that of world-famous ceramicists and provide further inspiration.

Activities supported each school with several Artsmark criteria, including pupil engagement, a varied arts offer and partnerships between the school and their local museum. The in-school pottery session provided arts CPD for teachers; “the professional potter demonstrated a wide range of skills that the staff were able to observe. One member of staff said it was one of the best workshops and most well organised project they had seen.”

Jo Dennis, teacher at Waycroft Academy, said of the benefits of being part of the project:

“We have been just over a year into our Artsmark journey at school and we thought that taking part would support this. However we also saw it as a way to inspire and develop our AIM students at school giving them a chance to work in a different medium with professionals in that field. Although clay is part of the curriculum at school it was an excellent chance to see how professional potters worked and give the students a chance to learn and emulate them.

The link to the exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery proved to be a very successful trip. The children who attended the pottery workshop were inspired by the exhibition and they remembered lots of the information they had learned during the workshop. They made excellent links to what they had done to potters from the past and present.

The children who took part in the workshop showed increased confidence in their own skills and abilities. They learned some new pottery skills and they loved the success they achieved. Their work is proudly on display in the school entrance hall and exhibited for all our visitors to admire.

There was a good opportunity for the teachers across the Multi Academy Trust to work together and liaise on the project. The professional potter demonstrated a wide range of skills that the staff were able to observe. One member of staff said it was one of the best workshops and most well organised project they had seen. There were many conversations between staff about the success of the project. Some of the art curriculum leaders were on the project and it gave them lots to talk about with regards to future design of the art planning.”

It will form a significant part of our Artsmark Award journey especially with regard to looking at the work of professional artists and the cross curricular links, as well as the links to art in the community.

From 16-20 January 2018 art produced by pupils at Waycroft Academy was displayed at local arts venue Paintworks for a week-long residency.

For Bristol Culture, relationships were established with schools that do not usually access museum learning activities and are from identified priority neighbourhoods in Bristol. The project helped contribute towards 100% of Bristol schools having contact with the museum service over a 3 year period.