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Devote one day to creative art

July 1 is Children's Art Day, so take advantage of the many activities going on around the country, on the day and next weekend, writes Karen Shead

This coming Thursday is Children's Art Day. Museums, galleries and community venues all over the country will be full of children taking part in a host of activities from drawing and collage to architecture and sculpture.

The purpose of the day, launched five years ago by Artworks, the national organisation which promotes creative education, is to encourage children to engage with art. On Thursday, and during the following weekend, children and their families will take part in dozens of art activities in schools, community centres and the major national and regional galleries and museums.

A spokeswoman for Artworks says: "There are events for children on the day itself and for families over the weekend: there are 150 projects all over the UK. Children's Art Day is growing and every year it is getting bigger."

Another element of the day is art shadowing, she continues. "This is where children are allowed to spend a day with a leading figure in the art world to see what their day is like. In Scotland, Sir Timothy Clifford is being shadowed."

Artworks is funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation, Britain's leading grant-giving trust in the field of art education, which works in partnership with the National Association for Gallery Education, and offers grants of up to pound;500 to support gallery-based projects celebrating the day.

Projects in Scotland which have received funding include Exploring Paolozzi at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, Face and Place at Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery, Space Place at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen, Flour Power at the Park Gallery in Falkirk, the Whistler's World outreach project at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow and Romantic Rapture, a project for asylum seekers hosted by Project Ability in Glasgow.

The project at the Dean Gallery will enable 12 visually impaired children from schools across the Lothians to tour the current Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition, Paolozzi at 80, and make sculptures. Mary Kilpatrick, the community education officer, explains that they will be given a description and touch tour: the curator has filled a room with sculptures that can be handled with gloves.

At the sculpture workshop, they will work with the artist Juliana Capes on making heads - both realistic and abstract - from clay. "Paolozzi sliced his heads vertically and horizontally and mixed something realistic with machine-like things and welded things together," says Ms Kilpatrick.

In Aberdeen, 12 children with a variety of physical and learning needs will be putting their heads together to design a child-friendly contemporary art gallery. They will work with students from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, who have been working on redevelopment projects for city centre sites, and design graduates.

Susan Grant, project curator at Peacock Visual Arts, says: "We've been looking to relocate for a while so we thought that it might be nice to look at access and design issues that are relevant to them.

"We have done quite a few projects each year for Children's Art Day. It's a really good focus at the end of the year and gets a local school to come into the gallery."

The event at Edinburgh's Fruitmarket Gallery is a culmination of a project with two local primary schools - Bonnington and Fort - which involves the current exhibition by Nathan Coley and a new commission by the gallery entitled The Lamp of Sacrifice: 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh.

Education manager Tracy Morgan explains: "The two schools have visited the exhibition, have had tours and asked questions. It's enabled them to make works in response to the exhibition and on Thursday we will be showcasing pupils' work in the gallery.

"We did an event last year, which involved 60 children working with a books illustrator.

"I'm totally supportive of the idea of a specific day and range of events promoting children's art. It's definitely something we would like to see continue."

Another project that involves responses to an exhibition is Flour Power at the Callendar Park gallery in Falkirk. On Thursday, children will preview the new exhibition which opens on July 3 and then, led by four local artists, use flour, semolina, chaff and animal feed as powder paints to make designs on the grass in the park.

The Whistler's World project will give children and their families the opportunity to work with an artist, visit the Hunterian Gallery and learn how to use collections and online resources to inspire other creative activities.

As well as these projects, there will be a chance to make a Lewis chessman outfit with help from sculptor Karen Clulow at the Museum of Scotland, or design and make a paper fan, taking inspiration from exhibits in the Royal Museum and Museum of Scotland, or join a Stone Age art workshop with artist Gary Bonn in Dumfries. The Giant Productions theatrical bus will be touring Glasgow with a storyteller, and with the many other activities going on there is bound to be something to get even the most reluctant artist's creativity flowing.

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