As Learning Coordinator at Pallant House Gallery, my main focus is to get young people thinking about art, and if I can facilitate an analytical conversation about a painting, then I feel I have done my job well.
One of the great things about the Write on Art competition is that is brings writing out of the classroom and into the galleries, so I decided to create a Discuss and Do session with our local School in Residence, Bishop Luffa School, to help them to look at our paintings in a different way.
Our Discuss and Do workshop is a service we provide students ranging from reception age to higher education. We create an hour-long workshop that develops students' artistic vocabulary by delving deeper into a work from our collection and they are given a sketchbook to document and experiment in.
I asked Bishop Luffa School to come for a free Discuss and Do workshop before they started their six-week-long School in Residence programme, to give them the opportunity to know more about the artworks we have on display, and let them find out about an exciting competition that gives them the chance to win £500 and be featured on the Art UK website.
The Write on Art competition has the opportunity to bridge the gap between galleries and schools. The website sets out what the competition requires from the applicants, with great examples, and tips on how to get inspired. For the learning team at any gallery, this competition gives a solid and hassle-free structure to work within.
With over 300 artworks at Pallant House Gallery on the Art UK website it gave me a huge variety to choose from. We observed, as well as compared and contrasted artworks; going more in-depth with the events at the time the painting was created to better understand the artwork's significance. We used the sketchbook to go over different techniques that the artists may have used, such as mark-making, and drawing from memory to see what stood out from the painting.
To better understand what the Write on Art judges looked for when writing about an artwork we had Nermin from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art talk about the competition. All the students agreed that having Nermin there was useful as 'she clarified the idea and aims of the competition' and one student found Nermin being there made the competition 'seem more achievable'.
The AQA Art A-Level requires an essay of up to 3,000 words; a daunting task, and near-impossible for some people. The Write on Art competition is a more manageable 500 words and can give people a financial incentive to start getting inspired by writing. Participants could also use their piece to contribute to their A-Level.
When I asked about their experience going around the gallery one of the students said 'I really enjoyed the Discuss and Do workshops, as it made me think about the paintings in a lot more detail. Instead of just being a piece of art it came to life to tell a story'.
If galleries can make art speak to more people so much the better. This is a great initiative for galleries to take part in, as well as students.
Holly Riddle, Learning Coordinator at Pallant House Gallery