‘In the Future …. How will we Create?’ took place from 9 November to 14 November 2021 at the UK Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai. The Royal College of Art is the Heritage Partner of the UK Pavilion, having a 170-year history of shared heritage with world exhibitions, going back to the first Expo, The Great Exhibition of 1851. The RCA’s contribution to the UK Pavilion will bring together a wide range of interdisciplinary projects from staff, current students and recent graduates. I developed and delivered ‘A City in a Day’ project as part of my ongoing research. Four local schools with approximately 20 students participated in an hour’s workshop, each hour a different age of the city’s development.
I was recently invited by Emre Altindağ, PhD researcher and editor for an interview in the first edition of Memory and Light and to be the keynote speaker at the accompanying conference in August 2021. Memory and Light is an international artist-led collective and new publication for illustrators, graphic novelists, and storytellers. I discussed with Emre the role of narrative and storytelling as a key tool in my approach to sketchbooks and my practice. Article pdf here.
In early August I was invited to Shenzhen, China as the external consultant for the Fun Drawing company. Fun Drawing specialises in pre-school art, design and creative classes for students between the ages of 4-12 years. Fun Drawing have over 20 years experience in the field of creative education and have over 100 schools across the major cites in China.
I spent a week in Shenzhen working directly with Fun Drawing’s research and development team, reviewing current curriculum and teaching methodologies. It was my role to develop approaches to integrate and adapt UK art, design and creative teaching, learning, theories, strategies and approaches into the curriculum.
Across the week, we worked together to develop a range of new projects, looking at the learning styles and interests of the different age groups. The focus was on developing a more holistic approach to skills acquisition and competencies and also greater integration of creative thinking and action based learning, directly linked to UK creative education models and practices.
One area of key research was the identification and use of primary research sources, in the form of integrating gallery and site visits into the programme of study. This led to taking 30 students to the the Team Lab Exhibition and Research Project, in Shenzhen. The exhibition led by a group of artists from Japan focused on the application of digital, interactive light based installation and technology. The drawings produced were then used to instigate a class in the teaching studio, where students expanded on their experiences and drawings through collage, drawing and painting.
This was a extremely exciting, simulating and rewarding experience. I was also able to meet with the children’s parents, over 60% of them had studied in the UK and/or the US and high valued their experience and hoped their children would also have such opportunities in the future.
I’m looking forward to the next stage of the project and the implementation of the newly developed curriculum. I will be returning to Shenzhen in October, to speak at Fun Drawing’s Annual Conference and present the current research and development.
Off to Shenzhen China today, for a week visiting with colleagues in Fun Drawing, taking part in a series of development sessions and demonstration classes.
As ever, I will be drawing and developing ideas in sketchbooks, 12 hour flights are always productive. China Blue seems appropriate.
Below is a snap shot of current work developing further approaches to the ‘Penny Dreadful’ object/narrative idea, engaging with shaped narratives and applied structure.
I had the great honour to be invited to speak at the Shenzhen Education Conference on October 26, 2016, as part of their Fun Drawing initiative. Introducing UK Foundation teaching and learning methodologies to over 300 pre-school educationalists from throughout China, alongside other professionals from the industry.
The panel discussions dealt with the challenges of the incredible growth in interest for the creative industries from a new generation of aspirational parents, keyed into the opportunities the Arts can offer their children.