Resources for schools

Curriculum enrichment, independent study and internships for King Edward VI Community College, Totnes

Since its inception, Arts Lab has maintained strong connections with Kevicc in Totnes – a great add-on resource for the students, both for those who come independently and sign up for internships or additional tuition … and for class groups enjoying curriculum enrichment.

The first young people to use Arts Lab as a complimentary resource to their school learning, was Kevicc. In March 2016, a group of A Level Art students made their way on foot from the school, up through the Dartington estate, to the Lab’s first home at Aller Park. Relishing the freedom of independence, time, space and material-use, the students spent the day in total silence, intent on making some great work, not for school, but for themselves.

For almost ten years Sara Downham-Lotto, the Lab’s founder and creative director, has had a working relationship with Kevicc’s Head of Creative Arts, Tim Wightman. Tim is a keen supporter of arts projects in and out of school, finding ways to best engage his students in activities outside the academic curriculum. Over the years, Kevicc students have taken part in Sara’s workshops at her studio, in local exhibition spaces and in the school’s Ariel Centre Gallery. In 2014 together they set up the Open Box project modelled on the International Room 13 movement – a student run arts studio facilitated by a professional artist. Many of Arts Lab’s ideas have come out of this project. Tim and Sara share the ethos of harnessing students’ creativity and individuality whilst developing thinking and making tools for practical outcomes. Their mantra is also inclusivity, recognising the benefits of mixed ability, mixed age groups and the wider community working together.

Dance students

One of the first projects was a collaboration between the artist Sara Downham-Lotto and Kevicc dance students. The idea was to create a large floor painting on which the students danced, adapting body shape and movements to the surface colour and forms. Discussion was had around the similarity of movement between dancers and the artist when he or she paints. Painting, in other words, can be said to be like a form of dance. Combining the artist’s movements with those of the dancers, hands and feet trailing wet paint would create a really interesting set of shapes and additional layering on the 2D floor piece.

Film students

Still based at Aller Park and still at early stages of development, Arts Lab attracted another kind of student – this time from Kevicc’s Film Department. Jake Moran – then a Yr13 A Level student (now in his first year studying Commercial Film at Falmouth) – enjoyed a free 4-hour private session with James Rowden. James was the first professional to join the Arts Lab team, keen to share his skills as a commercial film maker and videographer. He writes: “When you make a film about an action as everyday as making coffee, the benefit is that you can really focus on the craft of shooting the film sequence rather than on the subject matter itself. When I originally trained with the BBC I think we filmed a sequence of boiling an egg!” And so, here we have Jake’s ‘Coffee’.

James Rowden’s support of Kevicc film students has continued; with his help and guidance, Jake went on to make a couple more films for Arts Lab and Zanna Lotto, another A Level student, made at least three. As the new film intern, Tansy West, currently in Yr12, will no doubt also benefit.

Curriculum Enrichment Days

A month after Arts Lab moved to its new and current home at Studio 20 of Dartington Space, Kevicc students came for a day of curriculum enrichment. This saw the project at its best: energy, young people, collaboration and making the most of the fantastic studio space and grounds at Dartington. 26 year 8 Kevicc students came for the day with film and media tutor Martin Walker. Working alongside James Rowden, recent film and photography Kevicc graduate Zanna Lotto and the painter, Sara Dowmham-Lotto, every young person had the day to explore and experiment with film and painting. We gave them freedom to express themselves and ‘play’ in both disciplines, to use the materials and equipment at hand, making the most of the guidance and expertise of professionals. The aim – to create work that reflects the ethos of Arts Lab in paintings and film: a) for an exhibition in early December at Dartington and then in January at Birdwood House, Totnes; b)  as promotional material for other young people who would benefit from Arts Lab visits. All photographs and time-lapse film were taken/made by James on the day, and Zanna (with some producing help from James) created the film ‘Enrichment Day’ shown at the top of this page.

Kevicc’s second curriculum enrichment day brought 30 year 9 students, Jake Moran (Foundation art student as cameraman for the day); Charlotte Wells (Fine Art graduate as studio assistant); Ben Moon (Kevicc art tutor); Lucinda Wheater (Ariel Centre curator). Much of the day’s success was due to the help of Kevicc alumni Charlotte and Jake. …. and we got a fun film from the work put in by Jake and James Rowden.

The day started with collaborative drawing and painting to Arabic music, and then, inspired by their Arts Lab surroundings (materials cupboard, handmade clock and original abstract artworks on walls and hanging from ceiling), they created their own interpretative monochromatic drawings.

Activities week art days

Kevicc students spent 2 whole days at Arts Lab as part of their activities week. Always a pleasure to work with, these Yr 7s, 8s and 9s took to the ethos of Arts Lab as if it were in their DNA. Fantastic artwork too! All the titles came from the students themselves during a group crit at the end of the day.

Truly impressive was what the Kevicc students produced at the Lab on their last day of term and the academic year ….. creative fun and freedom to the bitter end, despite the heat and the draw of a long school break only hours away.