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CHANGING FASHIONS = CHANGING IDEAS

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent is constantly looking for ways to make their collection more accessible, especially to children, so this project reflects their commitment to improving the museums role in the community. The idea is a simple one: give children the opportunity to view the displays in a chosen gallery, ask them to make notes and drawings about what they see, and then design their own pieces of work to echo that experience. In this project, I was commissioned to teach everyone how to make use of screenprinting techniques so that we could produce prints on paper and cloth which would relate directly to some of the objects in the Changing Fashions gallery , where most of the items are behind glass. It is an attempt to make what is untouchable (e.g. a precious piece of 18th century ceramics or a Georgian dress) tangible. The children learned how to interact with the exhibition, and then to create objects which would become part of the display outside of the glass. For example, one of the children made a screenprint on cloth based on a pattern seen in a 19th century Japanese woodcut. This material was then used to create a beautiful lampshade, thereby giving that child ownership of something in the museum's collection. No longer trapped in a picture frame, the item became personalized, and thus more relevant to the child and to all who view the work. Everyone involved in the project had the opportunity to work in the following way: 1) Find an object behind glass in the exhibition. 2) Make information drawings about it. 3) Write down notes about what you see, and how you feel about it. 4) Imagine how you might make use of your discovery in the screenprint room. 5) Create a design/piece of work which could be displayed in front of the glass i.e. in the gallery. Jean Milton, the museums Collections Officer for Art, was the originator of the idea, and in charge of managing the whole project. Her philosophy is very innovative: give practicing artists (in this case, Jonathan Korejko, printmaker and papermaker) the chance to work with school children, and then find ways in which this combination can actually change the look of the gallery. Through this process, the collection becomes part of everyones experience and hence, makes the objects on display come alive (despite their age) and, gives the public better awareness of the exhibition (Look, mum, thats my cushion cover). This is ground breaking stuff, and hopefully will inspire museums and galleries in other parts of the UK to follow her lead. The gallery is now full of the children's design plans and products, thereby finishing the process of the interaction between the Gallery's traditional displays, the children, and their adult helpers. This programme has not only introduced children, teachers and museum staff to the process of screenprinting, but it has also moved into new territory; one in which the display space in the museum has been altered to reflect the experience. The children used their growing intellect and curiosity to identify ceramics, carvings, glass and delicate costumes inside the protective glass cases which they felt were relevant. They proceeded to lift imagery out of the cabinets and into the workroom, and then to make stencils about what they had observed, create prints on cloth with their new skills, and finally to exhibit their finished pieces in the gallery.
Jonathan Korejko2008 Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas Potteries Museum &Art Gallery Stoke-on-Trent

Working in the Changing Fashions Gallery

Children were invited into the Changing Fashions Gallery to look at the displays and to make drawings about the different items in the exhibition. It was explained to them that they should consider two crucial things as they made their observations: 1) How they might use their drawings and ideas as a basis for their screenprints. 2) How their proposed print could be used to enhance the museum's exhibition by creating new 2 or 3 dimensional artwork which would link directly to something displayed in the glass cases. All of the adult helpers assisted in this process, and the children responded with a multitude of ideas! Final design proposals were made, and new screenprint stencils were cut (under supervision), using scalpel knives, in preparation for the next stage: to print on cloth and ceramic tiles.

Jonathan Korejko2008

Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas

Potteries Museum &Art Gallery

Stoke-on-Trent

The final day of our work together was intense, creative, and great fun. The adults got just as involved as the children, assisting those who needed help with complicated tasks like colour registration and pattern making. Everyone learned the importance of teamwork whilst printing on paper, ceramic tiles, and cloth. The spacious workroom in the museum made a big difference to the success of the programme.

Jonathan Korejko2008

Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas

Potteries Museum &Art Gallery

Stoke-on-Trent

For three days after the workshops, museum staff then proceeded to complete the objects designed by the children. This included ironing the printing inks to heat seal them, hemming, pleating, making cushions, wall hangings, seats , a lamp, as well as glazing ceramic tiles with acrylic sealant.

Jonathan Korejko2008

Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas

Potteries Museum &Art Gallery

Stoke-on-Trent

The gallery space has been transformed! Lively and evocative prints create a dialogue with the many objects behind the glass. Hopefully, the children's' artwork will encourage visitors to the museum to have a closer look at the items on display. At the same time, the actual glass of the display cases has added an unexpected dimension to the project : there are many reflections of the screenprints echoing around the room in ways which none of us could have predicted. The glass, that hard, glossy see through barrier has actually helped us to achieve the very thing we set out to do: to change ideas about how a gallery can be used.

Jonathan Korejko2008

Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas

Potteries Museum &Art Gallery

Stoke-on-Trent

The Changing Fashions gallery has been rejuvenated, by changing ideas about how the museum's collection can be displayed on both sides of the glass. This creative approach to exhibition management has proven to be a worthwhile activity for all of the children and adults involved in this exciting and innovative programme.
The children came from Longton High School, Stoke -on-Trent 12 Children participated, year 7, aged 11-12 We worked with the children over a three day period in February, 2008 The team of adults involved in the project was: Jean Milton, Collections Officer for Art, Potteries Museum and Art Gallery Denise Lambert, Learning and Outreach Officer Alison Tinning, Curriculum Development Officer- Arts Karen Downie : Art Teacher, Longton High School Bryony : an enhusiastic volunteer who helped us

This report has been written by: Jonathan Korejko, Printmaker and Papermaker 2008 . Photographs by J, Korejko and J. Milton

Jonathan Korejko,12 Church Lane, Timberland, Lincoln LN4 3SB T:01526 378222 E:jj.ck@zen.co.uk W: www.timberlandand.co.uk

Jonathan Korejko2008

Changing Fashions=Changing Ideas

Potteries Museum &Art Gallery

Stoke-on-Trent