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The many faces of creativity

Artworks: Faces and Things City Art Centre, Edinburgh, until May 27

If this totally interactive, absolutely hands-ons exhibition doesn't make anyone who visits it want to pick up a pencil and start drawing, I'll eat my beret. Artworks has been designed to encourage everybody to have a go and the creators of the exhibition seem to have come up with just the right formula.

Entering the show on the top floor of the City Art Centre is like stepping into a giant sweetie shop, where the have-a-go art work stations have been arranged temptingly.

With nursery and younger primary school age children in mind, a bright sunny corner called Changing Faces has been fitted with little chairs and tables where visitors can have a go at jigsaw puzzle faces and a Matching Pairs game. They can pull faces in a mirror on the carpeted floor, turn themselves into kaleidoscope patterns via a clever, polished metal artwork and make a collage face.

The Portrait Studio is set out with table-top easels, mirrors, art materials and a choice of backdrops - and a wide range of fancy headgear - for anyone who agrees to have their portrait done. Inspiration can be drawn from the show's own Portrait Gallery, featuring works by professionals such a Joan Eardley and David Mach (the matchstick head sculptor) as well as enthusiastic amateurs whose subjects include pop singer Whitney Houston and "My Friend" , by Torquil, age five.

The "Things" part of the show takes in still life. A main feature of the Still Life Studio is the composition produced especially for the exhibition by a living artist. A Still Life Gallery of work by well-known professional artists and amateurs has also been created here and a range of objects and backcloths assembled so visitors can draw their own.

Sandra Marwick, head of education and outreach at the City Art Centre, says feedback from primary school teachers has been very positive, especially from those who were less confident about their own artistic abilities.

"The activities are easy to take part in, provided not too many children join in at the one time, and are designed to show that, with the right kind of encouragement, everyone is capable of learning about, understanding and producing art.

"If it was possible, we'd love to have Artworks as a permanent feature here."

For teachers' notes on how to plan your visit (two hours maximum), or to make a booking for Artworks, contact Sandra Marwick on 0131 529 3962.

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