SAHWing into STEAM with the SE Arts Award Leadership Network

Date Created: 20th Mar 2018

Gallery scene including a group of people looking at a sculpture of a person crouching made from a car

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Earlier this month, the John Hansard Gallery hosted an Arts Award Leadership Network event in its new gallery space in Southampton city centre (as part of Studio 144). Our Artsmark and Arts Award Apprentice, Meg, went along to hear all that was being discussed, both by speakers and attendees.



The session began with an introduction from local city councillor, Satvir Kaur, on how the arts can help benefit the community and work to combat the issues that Southampton in particular faces. Kaur cited statistics including the fact that 1 in 4 children are living in poverty in the city, and that homelessness continues to rise significantly in recent times. Such figures display the economic disparity in Southampton, and provide a reason to support arts and wellbeing programmes. The event aimed to promote the ways in which arts, culture and wellbeing work could feature within conventional STEM priorities in schools.

Later, Dr Alan Wong introduced the work he is pursuing as part of the Future Cities initiative. He discussed how the first developed urban areas were designed to facilitate people – that the streets were areas for kids to play and adults to ‘hang out’. Subsequently, this benefited people, by providing cultural and social spaces in the midst of city life. However, as he explained, modern design has seen urban areas focused on expanding upwards rather than outwards or across. This has meant that people have become separated – by traffic, by extravagant skyscraper-style buildings, and the individualistic nature this generated.

Next, Liz Sterling introduced her work with Arts Doctors, a Leeds-based organisation that welcomes passers-by to come in and receive an ‘arts diagnosis’. The work hopes to highlight the different sorts of arts and cultural activities that people could regularly embed into their lives for to boost their general health and wellbeing.

Later in the day, a musician working with the University of Southampton introduced his work with the Hearing HIV Project. He presented a musical piece he had created alongside a scientist based at Kings College, London, which represented the virus entering the body and its effect on cells. The piece was designed according to the scientific sequence of RNA, the virus equivalent of human DNA. It was an incredibly chaotic and interesting piece.


After lunch, attendees participated in two workshops. One was a photonics workshop, with a display of the holograms created by the professor leading the session. These included a hologram of a sculpture and a person’s face, each framed. Later in the session, attendees were given a Peppers Ghost. This pyramid allowed an optical illusion featuring swimming fish to appear in the centre of the shape, when balanced over a smartphone screen.

The second workshop was led by Dr Alan Wong, and was an activity that acted as extension of his earlier talk. Attendees were asked in groups to come up with potential enablers for creating a more child-friendly Southampton. Some suggested fundamental changes such as less traffic congestion, while others spoke of the need for adventure trails to navigate people to the other, less-visited areas on offer within the city – something like the Marwell Zebra Trail that was previously set up by Southampton City Art Gallery. Discussions of the lack of community arose in this session too, with people discussing a lack of accessibility to community workshops in developed countries, which inhibits social interaction and collective responsibility.

Overall, the day provided integral networking for fellow arts coordinators across the South and acted as a catalyst for important and relevant discussions on the topics of health and wellbeing. Artsmark and Arts Award were given further platforms to promote their purpose which fits perfectly with the SAHW into STEAM agenda – bringing the Arts into the mix rather than keeping them on the margins of the curriculum, or indeed of people’s daily lives.

Find out more about our work with Arts Award and Artsmark


Arts Award Arts Award Leadership Network Artsmark For 15 – 25 yrs Mental Health and Wellbeing South East Bridge Work-based learning

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