#SoaneLearning Week: Community Workshop with Capital A Arts
The end of May sees the conclusion of the Soane’s three-year programme of community outreach projects, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. As it draws to a close, Community Education Officer Kenn Taylor has been speaking to the people involved in just one of the many workshops that have taken place over since the programme began.
Sir John Soane’s Museum has been providing specific learning and engagement opportunities for a diverse range of communities since 2011. This includes informal activities and projects for older people, young people, Deaf and hard of hearing people, blind and partially-sighted people, English for Speakers of Other Languages students and communities local to the Museum. It has also included our long-running workshops with the Capital A Arts community organisation. The most recent one was held on 14 March 2014 at the Museum and I went along to speak to some of the people involved.
Jennifer Burnham, Capital A’s co-ordinator, explained a little more about what the organisation does: ‘Capital A is a programme of art workshops in museums and galleries for vulnerable people in London, funded largely by the galleries themselves. It works as a support group as well as an educational opportunity for our participants.’
Capital A and the Soane have worked together for a long period, as Jennifer highlighted: ‘We are grateful to the Sir John Soane Museum for the wonderful opportunities they provide. The warm welcome and long term relationship that we have with artist and tutor James Willis at the Soane has allowed our members to excel in ways that have surprised them; renewed confidence is perhaps the most valuable outcome of all.’
James himself described the process of their latest workshop: ‘We worked on a conceptual drawing which involved each member of the group contributing many small drawings made from direct observation of the collection at the Soane. These were woven together into a larger design which evoked the many seen and unseen layers in the Museum. The result is a spectacular drawing with different recognisable objects juxtaposed with each other demonstrating how many individual achievements can be integrated into an impressive whole.’
Monica Candik, one of the participants of the workshop, told me: ‘I would like to thank the Sir John Soane's Museum staff for the opportunity to participate in the art workshops. I have been coming to the Museum for a few years and I can say out of my personal experience that the workshops are one of the best I have seen and that some people have been unable to gain entry as the workshops were full. Sir John Soane’s intention was for his collection to serve upcoming generations for learning, inspiration and improvement of individuals lives. This is exactly what is achieved through attending these workshops, which make the collection come alive.’
(All photos courtesy of James Willis)