OCT – DEC 2015 REPORT
Arts & Crafts and Multimedia Classes
(at Care and Share India on behalf of Fondazione Zegna)
Classes this year at Daddy’s Home and Butterfly Hill Schools took place from mid October till Christmas time 2015. Over all I taught visual Arts to 10 different classes of children and I gave after school Photoshop computer lessons to another 2 batches. That makes a total of around 123 children participating in this year’s official programme.
The joy of an on going educational project such as this one is that with time, you are building upon years of knowledge and layers of training with many of the same students, while always having the invigoration of a yearly batch of new younger students who bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Because I have many returning students, I like to vary each year’s lessons, so while last year concentrated on a more technical/photographic syllabus, this year I wanted to go back to the basics of art and drawing. I experimented a little with some breathing and relaxation exercises with my classes at the beginning of the programme with the idea to begin each lesson from a very calm and focused place. My emphasis was on collaborative group work and drawing together as a team, ultimately creating ambitious large-scale works.
SETTING THE STANDARD: a house, a person…
This exercise is really useful in setting the standard for what I expect from my students throughout the course of their lessons. It is vital that they learn to channel their own ideas and let loose their own imaginations.
So they are given some simple instructions: make a drawing using only 1 pen containing: a house, a person, a tree, a bush, some flowers and 5 other items of their own choosing. Children must sit apart from each other and absolutely no copying is allowed! The idea is to demonstrate how everyone can draw the same items but still create entirely different drawings from each another.
WHAT’S INSIDE A NAME
The concept of the self is something I come back to repeatedly. I think it’s vital for the children who lead a holistically communal life to also ponder on the meaning of themselves as individuals. Here I get them to draw their name horizontally down a sheet of A4 paper, they then trace the mirror image of that name opposite and turn the drawing vertically. Now they must stop to see the image as a name but instead as the springboard for a fantastical drawing, the lesson being that from some very simple and ordinary beginnings you can produce something really unexpected and incredible.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT COLLABORATION
So as I mentioned earlier, my focus this year was on group work and collaboration. This is an excellent, non-didactic way to instil the virtues of working together towards a common goal, namely a very ambitious large scale drawing that the children would never undertake by themselves. As well as learning negotiation skills (all decisions had to be group decisions) it was also a lesson in patience and working in mixed ability groups. In the end even the children were amazed at the fantastic results they were able to achieve.
THE COLLABORATIVE DRAWINGS THEMSELVES…
The idea was to create a giant collage/drawing of an imaginary forest filled with exotic birds and flowers. We spent the bulk of our lessons on this project, first making many individual drawings that would be cut out and then collaged and then planning and drawing out the large-scale murals; a labour of love and a lot of dedication as many of the young artists put in a lot of extra hours into these works.
As ever I wish to extoll the virtues of photoshop, not only as a creative outlet but also as an important and useful life skill. Given that both campuses are now equipped with excellent IT facilities, it’s no surprise to find the labs teeming with enthusiastic children everyday after school.
I gave lessons as usual after school at both campuses and it was particularly pleasing to have so many girls this year in my Daddy’s Home class. It is also very gratifying to hear from some of my ex students now in college or university saying that the photoshop they learned here at C&S put them at an advantage over their fellow students who had come from other schools.
There was not so much time this year for origami this year but considering I have been teaching it here for a long time, it is thoroughly instilled in the children who came to me themselves with some new forms they had taught themselves from the library this year. We also managed to find class time to make a few new forms just before Christmas.