After training to become an Arts Award Adviser last summer, I was lucky enough to be involved in the Explore Arts Award both as a freelancer and as part of my day job. Bromley and Bexley ran the award for their Chatterbooks reading group members and anyone else who was interested in attending between the ages of 8-12 at four libraries.
The Arts Award is like an arts based version of the Duke of Edinburgh which also has gold, silver and bronze levels to choose from. Explore comes below the ‘Bronze’ level of difficulty and involvement, and gains a well respected qualification from Trinity College. The award takes the participants on a journey of inspiration, exploration of artists & arts organisations, creation of an original piece, and presentation to visiting parents.
I ran illustration workshops at three libraries, based around the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist – part of our Arts Award theme. We looked at the books, learnt to draw ‘Ishmael Mouse’ from Chris Riddell’s ‘Goth Girl’, and then filled in the relevant parts of the Arts Award log books. The children all followed the same step-by-step process which I demonstrated on a flip chart, but produced a fabulous variety of characters. I tweeted some of the photos after the workshop and was delighted to get some lovely comments from Chris Riddell himself, which were passed onto the group.
I’m lucky enough to work at the same library as Lyn Stone, a published children’s illustrator. She ran the workshop at our library which kicked off with the children becoming journalists and asking Lyn some great questions about her career. They made their own picture books using pre-made books of bound coloured paper into which they could collage, draw, write or put together pre-printed sentences. This approach worked really well, catering for the different needs and interests of the group, particularly as we have two children who are learning English. The children use log books to record their Arts Award journey. It’s a pleasure to look through and see the beautiful artwork, information and comments the children have added.
Once all the sessions and the log books had been completed, the Arts Award Advisers at each library went through the work to make sure the criteria had been met and the children had passed. A sample selection were requested by Trinity to be assessed, and I’m happy to say everyone passed. This was a pilot scheme for us and one of the main things we learnt was that a lot more time was needed for the children to complete all the work and for us to plan the sessions. It was hard work, but very rewarding, and I can’t wait to do it again.