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Schools join artists at MMU Holden Gallery

Published: 28th November 2008

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Primary school children in Greater Manchester are seeing their work displayed alongside established artists in a public exhibition - thanks to the GMSA funded Regional Progression Network in Art and Design.

Pages from sketchbooks by internationally acclaimed artists, poets and composers sit side by side with the sketchbooks of children as young as five in Reflective Stories. The exhibition is now open at MMU’s Holden Gallery, and is an exploration of the way in which people use sketchbooks, journals and notebooks.

The Regional Progression Network in Art and Design is one of 49 collaborative projects funded by the GMSA to widen participation in higher education. Run by Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Salford, its aim is foster a culture of progression; to make students want to at University.

Tim Dunbar, Director of Studies in MMU’s School of Art, said: "We took the idea of the notebook/sketchbook: everybody has one. We have created an artistic survey of the way artists, designers and students use their notebook/sketchbook. We now have an archive of different approaches, which can be used as a teaching aid and a resource for the region.

"It’s got about 100 examples in there, from five-year-olds to internationally renowned artists, composers and poets. Academics and teachers have also contributed.

Behind the scenes

"We are revealing the way in which people draw and write. We have an artist from Salford who produced a live art performance based on using a sketchbook and a film producer who documents how to choose a character. We want to show their thinking behind the scenes and then show the end result, which in this case is a film.

"Everyone in the exhibition is anonymous, so we won’t be singing about the big names we have on show, but it is important that we have a Tate Gallery artist next door to a five year old. We could use names to publicise the event but it is a non hierarchical survey. Experts will be able to tell who is who but, in principle, we don’t reveal that."

"Schools and Further Education Colleges can use the exhibition if they are doing a sketchbook project, for example. We are currently developing a CD for them to use in their teaching."

The gallery, on Cavendish Street in Manchester, is open 9am - 5pm. Schools can book out the exhibition on Tuesdays.

Mr Dunbar said events like this one are just part of a wider theme: "There are two aspects to the Regional Progression Network. We create visibly public facing activities and materials which complement progression agreements that are intended to help Level 3 students reach university."