From archive to art

7th January 2000 at 00:00
OUT OF THE ARK. Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. until February 6.

Fife's hidden treasures have inspired an exhibition of new works by local primary children. Deedee Cuddihy reports.

The sentiment "I've seen primary school children produce better paintings than that" is usually voiced as an insult to the artist and not as a compliment to the children. However, some of the work on show at the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery is better than the adult art it is based on. The presentation may not be as slick, but the delightful pictures radiate a freshness and enthusiasm which many of the originals cannot match.

"Out of the Ark" was conceived as part of a plan to show, by way of themed exhibitions, Fife council artworks that are normally kept in store due to a lack of gallery space. Outreach officer Emma Nicolson approached Sinclairtown Primary in Fife, which took up the idea of giving older pupils the chance to curate a show based on animals in art. Eighteen children were going to take part initially, but that figure grew to 26 P6 and P7 pupils.

The pupils visited the council's art stores to see which animal paintings, prints and sculptures were available. They choose one item each on which tobase their artwork, bearing in mind that they had to mount a show which was not only varied but would appeal to as broad a range of visitors as possible. Their choices included work dating from the 19th century to the present day.

Then it was time for the big challenge: producing an original piece of art (some produced two or three). They made another trip to the stores to make sketches and take notes about the use of colour, texture and materials.

Ms Nicolson, who is a trained art teacher, helped the pupils with their creations, which involved imaginative use of such materials as lolly sticks, feathers, fabric and straw, and then the pupils scrutinised each other's efforts.

Robert Forrester created a 3D picture from paper and card which was inspired by a woodcut. He says: "When I finally got finished, I was so proud of the result I could have collapsed."

The children's final task was to write an exhibition label explaining their choice of professional artwork and their own piece.

As the three-month project went on, more classes were gripped by the idea, so eight pupils created a collage for the show and P1 pupils made human and animal footprints to guide visitors around it.

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