For the last 6 years I have been working in a small and lovely school in Bedford, the time is short - 6 to 8 mornings a year but we are never tied to a rigid format. I choose artists to look at, take the children on a walk through their work, ask them questions, ask them to look and think about what they are seeing. They are all longing to get straight into the drawing, painting or making but taking a few moments to look and discuss adds to the quality of the work they move on to produce.
Whilst there last week I was brought a cup of coffee in the mug above, a lovely coincidence combining a map describing a network showing relationships "connecting the education sector across the UK". The network seems to be making connections, but the more I look at it, the more the diagram seems to describe branches that cross each other but place its practitioners in isolated bubbles.
Today we are used to a world of immediate communication, speedy responses, words broken into fragments, tiny shards of meaning, we are in such a rush to be here there and everywhere all at the same time, we forget the value of slowing it right down. This is particularly true of delivering creative outcomes in schools, we believe that children have a short attention span, will get bored, run riot, if we ask them to slow down.
During these activities the teachers and I also try to take the children on imaginative journeys, for the past two Fridays we have been in China looking at surface decoration and ceramics. Their teacher had recently been on a school exchange trip to China, her experiences helped to bring the vases to life for the children.
We could have thrown ourselves straight into the planned printing activity as soon as the children had finished their designs, instead we asked them to add to what they'd cut out and to plan out their designs by placing them inside the paper templates.
Slowing down creates space, there is nothing lovelier than drifting into a bubble of relaxation, of quiet and creative contemplation, the rush and buzz of the rest of life shrinks away, there are your thoughts, the materials and the many possibilities they present. The first mark needn't be the finished item. Everyone should give themselves the time to take that journey, not everyone ends up making images but we can all walk around inside them and enjoy or learn from the artist's chosen viewpoint.