Big Arts week

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
He may be one of our most famous sculptors, but Antony Gormley, creator of Gateshead's "Angel of the North", still found time last year to visit Broadfields Infant and Nursery School to help with an arts project. The 260 pupils aged three to seven created their own version of his Turner prize-winning work, "Field for the British Isles", by making clay models of themselves complete with objects such as footballs or goldfish.

His visit was part of Big Arts Week, an annual initiative promoting art in schools, run by national volunteering charity Timebank, which is now encouraging professional writers, designers, musicians and artists to volunteer their time and skills from between one hour and one week for the next Big Arts Week, taking place June 20-24.

Around 1,000 partnerships will be established to help children discover the arts and something new about themselves through art. Older students may even decide to consider art and design as a career.

Both sides are equally enthusiastic about the scheme. Visual artist Mary Jane Ansell, for example, spent six days at Stanford primary, Brighton, last year working on a portraiture project using digital cameras and Photoshop. The skills she demonstrated, she says, expanded pupils' "ideas of what drawing can be to include techniques for understanding the proportions of faces and applying them to their pictures. In turn they amazed me with their enthusiasm and talent and I left feeling utterly inspired and with a fresh eye to take back to my own work."

Teachers' feedback is also positive; comments included: "We have so little opportunity within the curriculum to allow students to work in these ways and it broadens their overall outlook in life" and "It was a very happy day with everyone having an enjoyable and creative time."

* www.bigartsweek.comTel: 0845 6014008

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