Enquiremanchester’s Weblog

The Manchester Museum is the lead museum in the North West Manchester cluster in a national project about art and learning for engage called ‘enquire’

Draw to explore October 28, 2008

Filed under: About Alchemy - enquire — enquiremanchester @ 1:31 pm
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So, as I said, the co-delivery of the sessions went pretty well.  We delivered three sessions in the herbarium during Big Draw week and with each one the non-herbarium staff (Jen and I) got more confident with how far we could let the students be free to explore for themselves.  After the first session Leander said he thought we could encourage the students to explore more so I made sure to emphasise that in my introduction to the following sessions and throughout.  This seemed to work and by the third session students were opening up drawers and boxes, asking for particular objects – such as the ‘oldest thing in the collection… something from Egyptians times, perhaps’, and gathering them together as they wanted to.

What worked particularly well for me was being able to allow Leander, Suzanne and Lyndsey to lead on their area of specialism and for me to lead on the art side of things backed up by my museological training.  Sometimes leading art sessions at the museum can make you feel like you’re not sure who or what you are representing for the students.  Are you a representative of the museum and all its histories and meanings, or are you the artist exploring the museum independently and sharing how you do that with the students?

By formalising our various roles in the delivery of the session it felt like we could each give something unique to the session.  In addition to that, Leander was great at making sense of the different ways that artists and scientists use the collection.  He’s had the chance to work with quite a few artists who have come to make work in/with the museum so framed it quite nicely by saying that both scientists and artists are looking for certain ‘truths’, but that how we each qualify those truths might be different.

 

Planning and Progressions September 2, 2008

Filed under: About Alchemy - enquire — enquiremanchester @ 4:09 pm
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All this afternoon the Secondary and Post-16 team have been planning the next couple of terms on the en-quire project.  Its a very exciting time, with lots of creative ideas flying about – more details to follow in the next couple of weeks!

One of the things we wanted to achieve as part of this work with artists has been a series of sustainable programmes that can be offered throughout the year and that work with some of our talented artist educators already on staff.  We have been lucky to secure funding from the North West Museums Hub, part of Renaissance in the Regions, through their Pathways and Progression programme.

This programme aims to provide Museums and Galleries in the Manchester area to develop their work with secondary schools.  Here at The Manchester Museum we have a well established Science and Humanities programme and arts programming has not been a core part of our offer until very recently.

With this funding we have developed three exciting new workshops that highlight the diversity of the collection and use the Museum galleries as sources of inspiration for creative learning and we can offer them FREE OF CHARGE which is wonderful news.

More details on each of the sessions will follow, along with information on the forthcoming trials and images.  If you are a teacher, or have a friend who is a teacher, and you want to know more, please contact one of us at The Museum, or even leave us a comment below so we know we are not alone!

 

Highlights: year two August 6, 2008

Filed under: About Alchemy - enquire,Background — enquiremanchester @ 9:17 am
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In 2007, we started off with a group of nine artists, three to work with each of the three museums (Manchester, Bolton, and Harris in Preston).

It was planned that each of the artists would develop a proposal and one of the three artists’ proposals would be chosen to work with the schools. However, the artists had other ideas and the majority of them decided that they would prefer to collaborate together rather than competing for a project.

This added a very new and interesting dimension to the project in which artists did not just collaborate with teachers and students, curators and museum educators, but also with each other.

In Bolton Adela Jones wrapped pupils from Harper Green School up as hieroglyphed mummies before showing them how to best to conserve their egg sculptures, which had previously fallen victim to an unfortunate egg-smashing incident.

Day-glo

Over at the Harris, Pete Flowers, Patricia Ramsden and Jane Fairhurst gave St. George’s High School from Blackpool a technique with which to recreate Islamic patterns in acidic day-glo colours in their transformed history classroom (thanks Mrs Baldwin!).

Back in Manchester, Marina Rees, Robin Graham and Sue Flowers, brought boys from Littlemoss High School for Boys to the museum to meet curators in our stores before working with them to create a performance piece, costumes and sets which would tell the story of their ‘tribe’. I’ll never forget the boy-sized praying mantis as, clawed-arms outstretched, it stalked across our dimly lit mammals gallery!

Artists Beth Allen and Daksha Patel did not take part in the school project work but their early contributions to discussions to plan our research and evaluation were valued. They tell me they have continued to make use of what they found out on their research visit to Bolton Museum.

Ups and downs

There were ups and downs to working with such an experienced, passionate and creative bunch of people. But, as we all knew, if we had stuck to what we were familiar with then we wouldn’t have found anything out. Like we ask of the pupils, we had to take risks. More on the research process next time…

 

Highlights: year one

Filed under: About Alchemy - enquire,Background — enquiremanchester @ 9:16 am
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In our first year we worked with two fantastic artists, Amy Leach and Brian Percival, who had very different practices and opened our eyes to the vast array of possibilities that open up when you work with contemporary artists and schools in a museum. Amy took a class from Chorlton High School on a dramatic journey through time, acting out what they thought Egyptians might say as they look back from the afterlife and then creating memory boxes to tell future generations what they wanted to be remembered about them. It was touching to listen to one young man considerately reflecting on how he had made a good Egyptian husband.

A class from St Ambrose Barlow High School joined Brian in an investigation of native and non-native species in and around the local area and stretching out across Britain. Through photography and film, collecting, drawing, audio recording, interviews, web research and media research, this class created a striking documentary exhibition which demonstrated the diversity of the wild (and not so wild) life that they came across.

 

How it happened August 5, 2008

Two years ago Bryony Bond, the then curator for Alchemy (artists’ research at the museum), secured our first phase of funding to take part in a national research project into the benefits of working with contemporary art and artists for young people. This project is called en-quire. This funding allowed artists to work with the museum’s secondary learning team for the first time and for school children to engage with contemporary art and artists at the museum.

In 2007 en-quire continued our funding, this time enabling Bolton Museum, Art Gallery and Aquarium and Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston to join us in our research. The results of two years of research, which also allowed us to work with Salford’s Artists and Education and Creative Partnerships Manchester Salford, will be published by en-quire as part of their national findings and also in a smaller publication of the North West Manchester Cluster’s research reports. I’m also working on a website which can be used to share our research with other museums and schools who are interested in collaborating with contemporary art and artists.

We’re now getting excited about a further twelve months of working with en-quire, especially with the next academic year quickly approaching, but more about that in later blogs…