The Sholing Technology College
The Identity Project was a collaboration between The Sholing Technology College, Southampton and Art and Mind, funded by Creative Partnerships.
In the autumn term of 2007, a painter, a musician, a poet and a scientist each worked for a whole day with each of four groups of Year 8 students, creating art works around the theme of identity. The finished work will be displayed in the school, and at the 2008 Art and Mind Festival in Winchester, where identity is the theme.
The images and words here describe what was produced during this collaboration. At the end of the project each student took away the box they had created for the totem poles, the book 'Nobody Else' (which contained a poem from each who took part), the holograms and photograms they had made, as well as a CD of the music they had created and recorded. We hope these will serve as reminders of the time they spent cosidering 'identity'.
Our thanks go to the staff of The Sholing Technology College, particularly Mr Sharps, who made the project happen. Thanks also to the four artists of the Identity project, Ruth Valentine (poetry), Pearl John (science), Richard Parker (music) and Garry Kennard (art), who is the Director of Art and Mind; and to Sarah Mander at Creative Partnerships.
But the real thanks goes to the students - the artists, poets, musicians and scientists - who took part in all these activities and brought to them a wonderful energy and creativity.
Ruth Valentine describes the poetry sessions:
We worked on a number of topics to do with identity: defining ones own identity and someone else’s; identity theft; the impact of having a face transplant; and the experience of living in and leaving the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for abandoned children.
The poems produced cover this range of subject-matter, with imagination, feeling and humour. They form an impressive body of work, with well-defined rhythms, vivid detail and a strong sense of the structure of a poem. Above all I find them impressive for their acute sense of empathy, with family members and friends, people in the news (the French woman who had the first face transplant) and imaginary characters (the children of the Foundling Hospital and their distressed mothers).
Pearl John wrote of the holography and photographic workshops:
During this Creative Partnerships project on ‘Identity’ students made holograms of objects that are precious – or unique to them - to explore issues of identity creatively. Students learnt about biometrics and used drawings of their own fingerprints as creative starting points to produce photograms. Students also explored the science behind the photographic and holographic light-based media to learn what makes their artwork possible – doing hands-on activities with lasers and optics.
Some of the students’ feedback included:-
‘I really enjoyed making the holograms and seeing the end product…I have something that represents me’.
‘It helped me think about what to do in the future’. P.S. IT WAS AMAZING!’
‘I have never made holograms before. It’s the best science lesson’.
‘I wouldn’t normally do this but I thought it was awesome!’
‘We’ve all worked hard…but we haven’t been made to work hard’.
Richard Parker led the music sessions
Richard, from Active Arts, hosted a series of rhythm based workshops with Year 8 girls from The Sholing Technology College in Southampton, as part of a Creative Partnerships Project organised by Garry Kennard from Art & Mind. The project was based around Identity and how young people can understand their identity within themselves in a multitude of environments. Using African Drums & Percussion Instruments, Richard facilitated day long sessions of music, conducting and written activities, with each group of Year 8 Girls, where they developed a stronger connection with their rhythmical selves, and through this orchestrated & conducted their own pieces of music.
Garry Kennard on creating totem poles
One of the current themes in psychology and the brain sciences is multiple personality. This area of investigation explores the way in which people create 'identities' which enable them to integrate with their peer groups.
By constructing totem poles we wanted the students to a) explore what, in part, defined them as an individual and b) how they might fit into a larger group but still retain their personal identity.
To begin with the students were divided into teams - tribes perhaps - and each tribe given a colour. Each student was then given a box which they covered with their tribal colour.
Each student was then given a chart on which they could 'map' themselves. From this information they decorated their boxes with symbols and images.
The book 'Nobody Else' published at the end of the project. This book contained poems by everyone who took part in the sessions.
Richard Parker in full creative mode during one of his drumming sessions
Students in creative mode
An example of a 'mind map' used before constructing the totem poles
Building the finished totem pole
finished totem poles