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Golding Homes helps Maidstone youngsters be creative

Open Spaces Maidstone Museum Jul 18

A series of outdoor art events for Maidstone youngsters was just the start of an exciting opportunity for a number of schools across the borough.

Almost £15,000 of community funding from Golding Homes will open the doors to increased creativity and a more exciting approach to art in no fewer than 15 local schools.

To the youngsters from Archbishop Courtenay Primary it was simply an enjoyable morning in the sunshine collecting nature’s bounty and using it for artistic inspiration, but behind the scenes the event reflected a wider campaign to improve the lives of youngsters.

Arts Council England invested £30,000 to allow the Learning Team at Maidstone Museum to deliver an exciting, art-based, health and wellbeing project to 15 local schools. Their request for match funding was met by £6,750 of community funding from Golding Homes - and ‘Green Spaces, Natural Faces’ was born.

The project saw pupils spend a day in the museum investigating different art forms and studying emotions and facial expressions before creating a piece of art with a focus on expressing their own ‘self’.

The second part of the Green Spaces, Natural Faces project saw pupils, some of whom might not otherwise have such an opportunity, visit their nearest park to take part in an art-based activity workshop aimed at promoting health and wellbeing.

Golding Homes not only provided the match funding of £6,750 needed to set up the project but then contributed a further £500 to each of the 15 schools to allow them to register for Artsmark, the creative quality standard for schools accredited by Arts Council England.

“The support Golding Homes is providing to the community by backing this initiative so generously is incredible,” explained the museum’s Learning and Events Officer Roz Meredith. “The school groups have had an amazing experience in the museum and in the park, but the broader support means that the whole school will benefit for years to come. We simply could not have done this without the funding.”

Artsmark provides a clear framework within which teachers can plan, develop and evaluate arts, culture and creativity across the curriculum, and registration includes specialist training for one of the staff members.

For the Archbishop Courtenay, that opportunity fell to Lin Copley, the class teacher who accompanied the 14 nine-to-11 year-olds on their trip to Brenchley Gardens. “Its been really exciting to be able to use the outside space so creatively and the school is really thrilled about the opportunity of taking art further right across the school and using it to the benefit of all our children,” she said.

The youngsters, meanwhile, made sculptures from natural objects, used their sense of touch to draw items hidden inside bags and explored the amazing resources of the park. They were inspired and encouraged by artist and printmaker Amanda Thesiger, who explained that she used the children’s natural curiosity to get them to explore and learn about nature using all their senses.

“The great thing is that there is no right and wrong in this kind of classroom,” said Amanda, from specialist arts company Outdoor Studios (OS).

The company’s workshops are designed “to help connect people to natural and urban environments across a range of arts disciplines, encouraging exploration of different tools and techniques through practical, hands-on experience”.

Caroline McBride, Head of Community Development for Golding Homes, said: We are really pleased to have the opportunity to share in this exciting project, which gives children the opportunity to explore health and wellbeing through art. “The project will also leave a lasting legacy in each school as a result of teachers being trained to deliver the Arts Award programme in future years.”