“Little Guernsey Conversations” – Art for Guernsey ‘Children & Masters’ Exhibition
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I was fortunate last night to be among those attending the launch of something interesting, uplifting and quite possibly unique. In a wonderful example of lateral thinking, creativity and partnership, the Art for Guernsey initiative, ‘Children and Masters’ was launched.
It’s the idea of Guernsey resident David Ummels who is the driving force behind Art for Guernsey. David has a happy knack for making interesting ideas into something real; which is of course, much more difficult than that may sound.
Children and Masters can best be described as the introduction of works of art to Guernsey’s schoolchildren in a way that has proved to be inspiring for them, their teachers and their parents.
A key moment in turning the idea into something real, was what David described as ‘one of those little Guernsey conversations’. I know what he means and the term which struck a chord with me. This conversation was David’s first meeting with Nick Hynes, Director of Learning, Performance and Intervention of Committee for Education, Sport and Culture. David offered several works of art to be loaned to Guernsey schools. Each school would have one.
Nick was very receptive to the idea and, as he said at the launch, ‘after about 20 minutes’ they knew that had a great concept that should work well.
And indeed it did.
A short film outlining the idea featured students, parents, teachers and educationalists who all explained how getting children and young people up close to an actual work of art unlocked much more than ‘merely’ an appreciation of the work itself. There were connections into geometry, history, geography, mathematics, religious education and art in other forms such as the written word. The students also created their own works of art of course, with the initial work as a ‘jumping off’ point.
All this has been made possible through the development and implementation of the New Bailiwick Curriculum which has as an overarching aim “to promote joyous and purposeful learning” whilst still maintaining a focus on high expectations.
But why unique? Well, it’s hard to say with certainty, but Guernsey does have many of the characteristics that one would need to bring such a project to life. A good sense of connection between various parts of our community, an inherent sense of safety, honesty and the trust that goes with that and a public sector in the form of the Education Committee that’s keen to embrace a novel idea because of the potential it offered. Of course one must not overlook the central contribution made by David Ummels who had the idea and the necessary energy and commitment to make it real. Not everywhere has all of these things required to make it happen.
It’s a fantastic venture and one with a likely long-lasting positive impact on the children and young people who participated.