147 students from Haydon Bridge High School have achieved their Bronze Arts Award by creating artwork inspired by neighbouring Hadrian’s Wall.
Students worked with three artists to create portraits, inspired by an exhibition, called Wall Face, of portraits from the National Portrait Gallery showing the men and women who helped preserve and reveal Hadrian’s Wall over the ages.
Anna Coulson, Head of Art at Haydon Bridge High School said: “Our students have completely thrived through the Arts Award process and through working on the Wall Face project. It has presented such a brilliant opportunity for our students to work with a range of different artists and I am delighted that they all rose to the challenge! Huge congratulations to them all!”
Arts Award is a national scheme to support young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts, build creative leadership skills and achieve a national qualification. Arts Award has five levels: Discover, Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold.
One of the artists Haydon Bridge students worked with was Ashley Hipkin, an established sculptor who works as an assistant to Angel of the North creator Antony Gormley. Ashley said: “We learn a lot about ancient civilisations through the objects that have persevered through time. It’s an exciting way for students to learn about a culture – engaging with the same materials, skills and processes.”
“It’s so important that children learn to use their hands, manipulate materials and express themselves through physically shaping the world around them, not just through words and 2D images. Getting their sleeves rolled up – hand making things with clay and plaster – which in turn connects them back with what the Romans were doing, that’s what excites me. I hope that my involvement allows the kids to feel what that’s like.”
The two other artists involved in the project were photographer Isla Jones, who is a student at Haydon Bridge Sixth Form, and Ruby Dale, a former student of Haydon Bridge High School.
Isla Jones said: “It’s been interesting to explore the leadership side of photography, as I’ve not had that opportunity before. Sometimes when I do my own work, I don’t appreciate how much goes into it, all the different skills I need to use, but helping all these children plan their compositions, get the costumes and poses just right, is really helpful for me in evaluating my own work.”
Ruby Dale, who is currently studying Fine Arts at Sunderland University, said: “It was great to see the students’ skills develop over the short time – they were really interested in the different aspects of Hadrian’s Wall.
“Teaching was a great experience for me, especially in my own former school. The requirements on teachers are immense and it’s shaped what I’m choosing to do in my own career.”
Wall Face learning programme consultant Yvonne Conchie said: “There are so many learning opportunities for all ages which can be based around Hadrian’s Wall – Romans are the usual subject studied by schools, but we want to show that learning right across the curriculum and age ranges can be illuminated by Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.”
Yvonne continued: “Information and classroom resources to help teachers plan lessons and visits across the World Heritage Site – for different aspects of the curriculum and for all ages – can be found on the Hadrian’s Wall website at www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/learning.”
Bill Griffiths, Head of Programmes for Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and Chair of the Wall Face Steering Group, added: “We are grateful to the Arts Council and to the National Portrait Gallery for their support in enabling Wall Face to take place. The project enabled all the museum partners across Hadrian’s Wall to work together for the first time to deliver a Wall-wide exhibition and we are delighted that the learning programme has produced a lasting and innovative legacy”
Culture Bridge North East works to support Arts Award in the North East. More details are available at www.culturebridgenortheast.org.uk.