York charity New Visuality sees in the New Year with a celebration of illustration infused art from its ‘Arts for Change’ funded project, ‘New Stories for New Ideas’. Based on art sessions started in early 2017 and on subsequent trips to York schools and academies, ‘New Stories’ is built around the traditional and the technological, drawing on existing skills such as illustration and painting, and consolidating them with innovative experiences.
Says charity trustee Alaa Jasim, “‘Arts for Change’ is a programme from The Two Ridings Community Foundation. The funding enabled us to reach beyond our normal remit. We’ve always wanted to work with a larger amount of disadvantaged children, and employ some of our more talented young artists as ‘ambassadors’. This meant that we could visit schools in Acomb and work alongside young people with learning difficulties at The Blueberry Academy. For the pupils to become the teacher was an absolute thrill, and really helped hammer home the learning curve. Sometimes the best way to strengthen learning new skills is to go out and actually teach them.”
The project harnessed a vast array of experiences, including innovative light illuminations and 3D prints. The latter saw a ground breaking collaboration between New Visuality and Thirsk company ‘Go Print 3D’ with CAD (Computer Aided Design) files composed remotely between professional 3D artists and young participants in the project. “There was a gamified quality nailing the designs,” says Alaa, “Artists and Go print 3D staff collaborated with our staff via Skype. The participants solved the design problems with gaming skills. It’s like the Kerbal Space Program or SpaceChem, where engineering and gaming intersect. If you can create and manage your own space programme through problem solving games, then 3D prints should have been a doddle! It didn’t turn out quite so easy, but the gaming element made 3D prints, from the initial designs to the actual printing of the prototype, so much more accessible to the young people.”
Blueberry Academy Principal Katie Johnson was delighted to see 3D Prints and gaming used so successfully with learners. "The collaborative work with New Visuality was a fantastic opportunity for our learners to work with cutting edge technology. The Blueberry Academy delivers Personalised Learning Programmes for young people 16-25 years old, supporting them towards developing independence and employment skills. The 3D printing workshops gave our learners access to a level of technology that few young people have experienced yet. To see their work used in this way was a brilliant experience for them."
The art created in the workshops found its way in exhibitions in citywide events such as The Melbourne Centre summer fair, ADAM (Acomb Dance Art Music) Festival, Fossgate Festivals, and at Tower Street’s ‘According to McGee’ gallery. The participants put down their artists’ hats and became business people: pricing, curating, liaising with the public, making telephone calls, making the sale. “It’s funny, it was this aspect that saw the participants get really stuck in! All creative projects should include an element of The Apprentice!” laughs Alaa.
As art ambassadors, the young people made trips to schools in the Acomb area and The Blueberry Academy. Says Westfield primary Head Teacher Tracey Ralph says “It was great to see Greg in action with our Y5 children in their art class preparing for ADAM. The children really enjoyed learning about and drawing in the New Visuality style and Greg’s cartoon tips really helped scaffold their work., resulting in high quality artwork of which they were proud.” Our Lady Queen of Martyr Head Michele Wall says, “This project was an opportunity for our pupils to go to creative sessions that, due to economic realities, they would otherwise not attend. On every level, it was fabulous opportunity.”
The participants themselves got an obvious amount of enjoyment out of the sessions and are looking forward to seeing their work exhibited as projected light in Tower Street. Says Herve, 18, “I loved the sessions and enjoyed the 3D printing best”; “I liked working as a business woman in the Acomb festival” (Ella, aged 16); “I just loved getting out of the house. We don’t draw in school so this was good for me” (Kieran, 15); “I am a much better drawer now and I understand Lightroom and programmes that help edit photographs” (Edie, 15).
Alaa is looking forward to seeing the work projected in a March light installation opposite Clifford’s Tower. “It’s been a multi-faceted project, and we have over stretched in a few areas, but it’s all come together. The art sessions led to enetrprise skills and ambassadorial roles. The art itself straddles both old school sketching and painting and 3D prints and CAD collaborations. We have 40 portfolios that we will be putting forward for Arts Award moderation at Bronze Level. The funding from Two Ridings Community Foundation’s ‘Arts for Change’ programme has fallen on very fertile ground, and we’re very grateful for it. We will be using the success of ‘New Stories’ as a template for a wider, nationally based project. For a small city, there is a lot of exciting, innovative seeds being sown.”New Visuality