• #28 Fun with Schools

    After a busy couple of years out and about with farmers, it was time for us to bring farmers and schools together.

    With the wonderful support of the Wordsworth Trust, the early part of 2014 was taken up with a flurry of activity with primary and secondary schools brining photography, poetry, landscape and farming together. While the Land Keepers exhibition was on show in the Wordsworth Museum, we worked with seven schools. Each school had a two day programme: day one at the Wordsworth Trust, day two on a farm.

    In Grasmere we took them round the exhibition and they also had a guided tour around Wordsworth’s house, Dove Cottage. The location was ideal for stimulating thoughts about our perception of the land and how artists and writers have experienced and presented it in the past. Questions came thick and fast: questions about sheep and about farming and the Cumbrian uplands, about how to take good photographs and what makes a good poem.

    On day two the children visited a farm where they were shown round by the farmer. At each farm they were shown the livestock, had a chance to walk around the land into the surrounding fields, learn about the intakes and fell land, lambing, shearing, markets, wool and more. It was a real hands-on experience for them and Patterdale School particulary became quite closely involved as they were sorted in the sheep pens: girls, boys and runts (the teachers of course)!

    After their farm visit the children went back to school and we worked with them on written and illustrated pieces to capture their experiences. They continued to work with their teachers and produced a wonderful range of pieces that were exhibited at The Wordsworth Trust in the Spring. Felt panels, watercolours, photographs, 3D scuptures, poems, videos and even a dress …

    With the presentation of their Arts Awards this month, the process seemed to have been completed – although it wasn’t. For many children seeds have been sown: interest in farming, curiosity about the land and how we use it, sparks of enthusiasm for photography or writing. Time will tell what impact their visits really had.

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