Painting Houses with St Begh's School
I trained as a teacher, working in Schools and then as a Professional Development Officer for Cumbria Education Authority organising in-service courses for Primary School Staff. I've always loved working with children and when I was made redundant I set up my company and started freelancing in schools. To begin with I was doing poetry workshops and then putting the children's work into poetry books. It was during a joint poetry and art project that I began painting again.
The last few years money has got much tighter in Schools for extras so I've just concentrated on painting and selling art work.
My last school project with children had been an art project in Shap. Each year group had two sessions working with me doing collage. It coincided with my 100 squares exhibition at The Old Courthouse in Shap. Then Covid hit and school visits were out of the question. Inset day last January with Gosforth School was fun, working with the teachers on a day of art to get them working together.
I expected that would probably be my last work in Schools until I received an invitation from the Headteacher of St Begh's Catholic School in Whitehaven this term.
I've worked in the school before, about eight years ago on a poetry book project, so I was happy to respond.
I really enjoyed working with the two Y5 classes. The first two afternoons we were lucky with the weather, although we had a few light spots of rain on the Monday. I led the children and accompanying staff on a walk from school into town and around some of the oldest Georgian streets in Whitehaven. Armed with their ipads we had frequent stops to take photos and talk about the specific features of Georgian architecture. The children were well behaved and listened to stories of the famous people that lived in Whitehaven and took photos of their houses.
We stopped at the noticeboards at the top of Roper Street and the children were impressed to see my paintings on display. We also had a longer stop in Washington Square to look at the Johnathan Swift mural and also talk about the American connection.
My hope is that the children will have a greater sense of connection to the place they live and an understanding of how important a town Whitehaven was in the past.
On the Friday afternoon I spent an hour in each classroom drawing Georgian houses. Step by step we looked at the features of a Georgian town house allowing the children some choice in which particular features they wanted to include.
In June I returned to do the same lessons with the Y6 classes.
The Y6 children were equally engaged with the town trail and the drawing lesson and I have been invited to be a regular part of their annual local history project.