On Friday 30th of September 2016 me (Fay), Bhav, Damon and Matthew started our first session at Waterhead Academy as part of their Careers Pathway. The Careers Pathway is aimed at Year 7 and Year 8 and gives students the opportunity to learn new skills and expand their knowledge in certain fields. Each student for each year group had to pick a certain subject they wish to participate in. These subjects would run for 9 weeks on Friday afternoons, the subjects varied from sports leadership to Drama. Each subject will give the opportunity for the students to expand their skill set and help them with their future goals. For example, if they chose Drama they would be working towards their Bronze Arts Award, as well as performing in front of an audience, and gain different skills in a number of art forms such as Animation and Live Art.

It was mine, Bhav, Damon and Matthew’s job to plan and create several workshops that would showcase not only our artistic talents, incorporate elements of Bronze Art Award but also share some of the experience we gained through the the first residency of the Under25 project in Valencia. We have had 3 sessions with the students so far. Our first session was an introduction session as a way for the students to get to know us and vice versa as well as tell them what sort of things we had in store. The next two sessions were managed by Damon and concentrated on Animation.

With the use of stop motion Damon asked the students to create short stop motion films using the objects within the classroom. And what we got back were films full of imagination and creativity. For example, we had two textbooks falling in love and getting married, we had the life cycle of a flower shown just though ripping up paper and we had a glue stick, rubber and scissors that had an argument so bad that the scissors had to split.

Only three sessions down and the students have shown us that they are a very creativity, funny, talented and intelligent. We hope to share more of our artistic talents so Bhav will be having a session on writing and making films. Matthew is going to teach them about live art. I am hoping to teach them about creating a character onstage. And we hope to share some of the work we learnt from the Artists in the Under 25 project such as Cris Blanco and Bea Fernandez.

When starting any new project there will always be challenges you have to overcome. One of those challenges was in year 7 a couple of the students second language is English and therefore sometimes can find it difficult to understand the task. But like any challenge we accepted this challenge and knew we could easily overcome it. After having 5 weeks in Valencia working with 11 other artists and always having a language barrier this challenge was nothing new for us four. It’s just about making sure we explain as best we can or it’s a matter of showing over explaining.

We also have a couple of students that are very helpful and will translate for us if we need them to. One particular boy is very good at translating however we collectively felt as it was best if he wasn’t always translating for us, as he will spend most of his own time translating and missing out on the experience himself so we try to avoid this as much as possible.

Each session will have new challenges for us to overcome but I know that we can all take these in our stride and always try to find the best outcome.  But overall, the sessions so far have been really positive and the students seem to be really engaging with the tasks we set. In every workshop we seem to have those moments that stick in your head. As an example, last session a boy in year 8 who is incredibly talented at drawing brought some of his drawings to show us. He had a whole story behind each character. However, his confidence is very low and he did not believe in his drawings. We decided to ask the boy if he wanted to show his drawings to the rest of the group which he agreed to. To show in front of your peers can be very daunting and to show something you are very passionate about can be even harder. As soon as he realised that the reaction of his peer was genuine and so positive his confidence grew. Later on in the session he told me he would love to be a famous artist one day was a really unique and special moment.

Overall, I think me (Fay), Bhav, Damon and Matthew are really enjoying this experience as much as the students. We are learning from them as much as they are learning from us. We have a few more sessions left and I am excited to see what the students create at the end of this project.

Originally formed in 1991 as a community theatre project for Oldham’s Asian community, Peshkar has evolved into the UK’s leading participatory arts organisation targeting young people who are deemed hard to reach or socially disadvantaged.

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