Exploring change at the North West Cambridge Development
How can art and the work of artists help children relate to their city as it grows?
How can children help others to think creatively about these changes?
The NW edge of Cambridge is changing. A new district, called Eddington, with homes and spaces for over 8,500 people to live, work and learn together, is being built. The public art programme, curated by Contemporary Arts Society and InSite Arts, has been inviting artists to investigate and respond to these changes through since 2013. ArtScapers was established as an education programme to support this in 2016. It places children at the heart of the process and has developed innovative ways to engage with the wider community including professional development days, resources, events, exhibitions and an interactive website.
In 2019 the children, parents and educators at Mayfield Primary School created a manifesto for the work – ‘how we want to be in our world’:
· Be free
· Imagine anything
· Have fun
· Know anyone can do it, there are no wrong answers
· Share and talk
· Not rush
· Try things out and experiment – make a mess
· See that art is everywhere
· Keep trying
· Move around, be comfortable
· Be brave and trust
In 2020 ArtScapers have accepted their first formal commission: they will be working with CCI artist Caroline Wendling to co-create a 'Forest of Imagination' for Cambridge Youth Opera's new production of Hansel and Gretel. Later this spring we will also be publishing an account of the impact of the work on the community linked to Mayfield Primary School, written with Co-Headteacher Paula Ayliffe, Esther Sayers (Goldsmiths University) and David Whitley (Fellow Homerton College). This has been made possible with the generous support of the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, and will be available in print as well as free to read online.
In May 2019 Ruth Sapsed, together with Co-Headteachers Paula Ayliffe and Sarah Stepney and Rose and Ella (age 8) from Mayfield Primary School, presented the programme to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Design and Craft in Education, sharing our learning from the programme and its impact on children, educators and parents. Tracy Brabin MP (chair of the meeting with Nick Trench, Earl of Clancarty) commented:
What fantastic young advocates you are. Your message to us to slow down is so important. I saw too how important ArtScapers has been for parents and teachers too. An extraordinary presentation. Thank you.
Follow this link to view three films made about various aspects of the programme and visit the public art website for resources to support ways of engaging with the programme. An article by Dr Esther Sayers in the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education (September 2018) explores the concepts of community engagement and active citizenship in more detail.
A partnership between CCI and Dr Esther Sayers, an artist educator and researcher from Goldsmiths University, the Artscapers programme has worked with Mayfield Primary School, University Primary School and Girton Primary School as well as run events and exhibitions. The posts below give detailed insights into the process whilst this short film celebrates the day when over 300 children from Mayfield Primary School explored Waves, arcs and sparks as they worked creatively together in Storey’s Field Centre:
What I really like about the project is that it gives the kids a sense of say over their environment…it was not like that for my generation. Its lovely being creative and doing a bit of art-I don’t do that any more - and thinking about what community means and how we can bring people together.
Parent feedback, Gravel Hill Open Day, July 2nd, 2016
Gabby Arenge from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education researched alongside us during year 1 of the project, and reflects here and what it meant to be an artscaper for everyone involved.
Being an ArtScaper means to look at something and make your own ideas. Then, just think of the idea you thought of before and mix it up so you can make something even bigger and newer. Then just design it.. then just find stuff that might be used in the future and use that to help you build it.
Jared, 8, Mayfield Primary School
CCI artist Susanne Jasilek initially lead the planning and facilitating of the workshops in the programme She reflects on her experiences in year one here. Caroline Wendling took over from Susanne in 2017 and has been joined in 2019 by Filipa Pereira Stubbs.
Work from the programme has been re-imagined as an interactive resource and accompanying display materials. These have been shared through exhibitions and events including the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas:
ArtScapers is continuing to build relationships and take inspiration from the processes, creative thinking, research and collaborative practices of the Habitation Artists involved in the Arts Programme. Regular updates are shared below.