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Isle of Wight children use Arts Award to explore coastal heritage

Date Created: 27th Oct 2022

Picture of schoolboy with adult by a boat

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Over 70 Children on the Isle of Wight, years 4 to 6, have been exploring their local coastal heritage through undertaking a ‘Discover Arts Award’. Three schools, St Saviours Primary Totland, Lanesend Primary Cowes and Newport C of E School were each paired with a local museum – Dimbola Museum and Gallery, The Classic Boat Museum and the Museum of Island History (combined with Quay Arts) – as well as a New Carnival Company artist.

The project was conceived through the ‘Crossing the Bar’ programme. This is a creative collaboration between New Carnival, the Isle of Wight AONB, The Ramblers, IW Walking festival, and the IW Museums and Schools project, celebrating the coastal footpath of England and the Isle of Wight. 

Frankie, project co-ordinator, from New Carnival explains: 

“We know that the Isle of Wight’s coastline is unique and very special. We are passionate about that. It is diverse, unspoilt, packed with nature, heritage and culture, and its coastal footpath attracts walkers from all over, all year round. The Isle of Wight already has over 50% of its countryside recognised as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and boasts over 35 miles of Heritage Coastline. In fact, UNESCO has already designated the Isle of Wight a World Biosphere Reserve – this is recognition of the special relationship that our community has with this outstanding environment. We want to shout out about that.”  

St Saviours School Totland had 32 children from its Year 5 and 6 class first visit Dimbola Museum and Galleries. They explored the museum, finding out about Julia Margaret Cameron, an important Victorian photographer known for her celebrity portraits. They also created ‘photograms’, camera less images, in the darkroom, finding out about traditional black and white printing processes and how light works. This was followed up by an in-school workshop making ‘cyanotype’ prints on fabric using a coastal theme taking inspiration from another important Victorian photographer Anna Atkins. The children made cyanotype flags and larger wall hangings to be displayed at Dimbola on the day of the Crossing the Bar event, 16th October. The children shared their work both through the public display but also within their school explaining their work to the younger year 1 class.  

‘I enjoyed doing the group cyanotype because there was loads of different ideas that we were sharing’ 

‘I would tell people that it was a fun and educational experience to be in’ 

‘I really enjoyed the darkroom part when we did the printing. I was fascinated when the paper changed and where the objects made an imprint’ 

Comments from the children at St Saviours. 

School children doing artChildren outside

Newport C of E School took a whole class of year 5 and 6 children to visit the Museum of Island History and the Quay Arts centre. They explored the artifacts at the museum, finding out about Newport’s history and then went to the exhibition of Clarke Reynolds, a blind artist with works in tactile braille at the Quay Arts. The arts award and follow up creative activities were then undertaken at an after-school club with 11 pupils. They drew pictures which represented the history of Newport and its Quay and then also the present day. These were worked up onto fabric, then painted and put together to create large wall hangings illustrating the past and the present of Newport. The work was shared through display to the public at Newport Quay Arts on the day of the Crossing the Bar event, 16th October. The children also shared their work to their family and peers at school. 

A group of 30 children from Lanesend Primary School, years 4-6, 10 of each year, visited the Classic Boat Museum in Cowes. They explored the exhibits, finding out about lifeboats, racing boats, the boat designer Uffa Fox and the work of woodcarver Norman Gaches who was famous for his ship figureheads. They drew pictures of things they saw at the museum, including the iconic 1912 hammerhead crane, a listed and protected structure. When back at school during the art workshops, they worked up these drawings into painted designs on fabric to be made into bunting inspired by the ship and boat flags that they had seen at the museum. Their work was shared to the public on the Crossing the Bar event day at the museum, Sat 15th October. They also shared their work to family and their peers at school through an assembly. 

The Arts Award engagement on this programme was well received and supported by the schools involved, teachers were pleased about the opportunities to visit and engage with local organisations and to do different art activities not always on offer within school settings. New Carnival artists were impressed with the children’s enthusiasm and creativity. Overall, it was a satisfying and rewarding programme which will be taken forward for next years Crossing the bar programme, 2023, which will be focusing on the Tennyson Heritage/ Jurassic coastline, on the southwest of the Island. 


Arts Award Gallery Isle of Wight Museums Primary Schools young people

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