Landscape of success

14th February 2003 at 00:00
Pamela Robertson is quietly pleased with the way her first project for East Ayrshire Council is progressing. The exhibition shows how artists throughout the ages have depicted landscapes and weather conditions and she has organised a programme of artist-led workshops and an education pack.

In October, Pamela became Scotland's first cultural co-ordinator for creative arts, for East Ayrshire, appointed under a scheme funded by the Scottish Executive and administered by the Scottish Arts Council. It allows local authorities to bid for half the costs of employing cultural co-ordinators, the aim being to help create a "smart, successful Scotland" through greater access to the arts. East Ayrshire now has three, for the creative and the performing arts as well as museums, each working two days a week.

"My job," says Pamela, "involves visiting schools, building relationships with teachers, showing them where the creative arts can fit in right across the curriculum and discussing what they need."

Her first project is based around an exhibition running at the Dick Institute museum and gallery in Kilmarnock. Storm - Landscape and the Elements, which runs until March 8, comprises 40 works dating from the early 1800s to the present day, most of them drawn from East Ayrshire Council's own collection. It includes paintings by Turner and Constable as well as Scottish artists, some currently based in Ayrshire, and a film entitled Highland Biting Midges.

Working with Hazel McLaren, the visual arts officer, Pamela has organised workshops for primary schools and an education pack to complement the show.

"In the workshops, pupils have been using a variety of materials and techniques to create their own weather paintings," she says. "They've looked at different painting styles and worked with artist Sally Chapman, who has work in the show. Acting on what teachers have told me, the workshops can accommodate up to 35 children so that classes don't have to be split."

Hazel and Pamela also planned a teachers' preview. "This is the first we've ever held," says Hazel. "More than 30 teachers turned up, including six of the council's nine principal teachers of art.

"Although we've run workshops before, and sent out education packs, the response has never been so quick. All the places were booked within two days."

Primary 6 teacher Elaine Smith, of Annanhill Primary in Kilmarnock, says:

"We follow the 5-14 art programme but it makes a big difference seeing real paintings. And the children have been inspired by Sally Chapman. We've never taken part in a workshop before but I would come again."

A pack based on the exhibition has been sent to all schools in the area

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