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Making Memories: Art and Outdoor Learning in the Early Years

by James on May 1st, 2017

Snail on boy's handMaking Memories is the name of a new project that I will be working on this Spring and Summer with First Steps Nursery and The Secret Garden, Salisbury . I have run other projects with First Steps in previous years, see here for some photos from a ‘Big Draw’ project in early 2016.

Previous projects have demonstrated our shared belief that arts activities which place young children’s needs and interests at the centre, and which link with the local outdoor environment, benefit not only the children’s learning, but also their physical and emotional wellbeing. Other projects have taken place at the Nursery, this time we want to take children out to work at and respond to this local community Garden.

plant labels

Together with a contribution raised by the Nursery, we have launched a Crowdfunding appeal to enable this art and outdoor learning project to take place. If you are able to contribute to the appeal, please do so by following this link (from Tuesday 2nd May when appeal goes live) –

If you aren’t able to support us financially, please do share the link on social media, using the project hashtag #MakeMemoryWilts. All support and publicity really is very much appreciated.

Toddler drawing

Making Memories will connect with research that I have been carrying out into place and childhood memory in my individual arts practice, and a general theme of Memory amongst the major Salisbury arts organisations this year.

The children, staff and I will be visiting and spending time at The Secret Garden Salisbury, beginning with the planting a Mulberry tree to mark the Nursery’s 25th year. I will then pay return visits to the Garden with pre-school children, and alone, and run subsequent sessions at the Nursery with the toddlers and babies. I will also run a cpd session with staff and involve parents and other family members in project sessions.

Exploring resources outdoors

The project will offer hands-on, multi-sensory opportunities for the children to investigate the Garden, and the Nursery’s own outdoor spaces, and we will connect with The Secret Garden’s Bee City initiative (#BeeCitySalisbury) by exploring where bees live in the garden and the role that they play within its ecology.

As well as the primary focus of facilitating the children’s explorations, I will develop my own artwork in response. An integral part of this project, and one that sets it apart from many others, is this exploration of the relationship between the artist and children’s artwork and learning, the research that an artist carries out before a project, and the impact that the children’s ideas and ways of making/exploring have on the artist’s practice afterwards.

James making

Artwork made by the children, staff, parents and myself, and documentation following our journey through the project, will be shared at an exhibition at Salisbury Art Centre this Summer, with the exact dates to be confirmed. The exhibition will show also offer an opportunity for exhibition visitors to contribute their own childhood memories through a co-constructed artwork.

To follow project progress please come back here soon, or see posts by project partners on Facebook and Twitter by searching for #MakeMemoryWilts.

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