Sunday, 17 July 2011
Yesterday I discovered by chance that Thomas Tallis School has won the £3500 Cassio prize for the best exhibit at the Royal Festival Hall's '51 Festival of Britain anniversary show. 42 schools across the UK were asked to submit work to the show for a special pavilion showcasing the work of Schools of Creativity. A similar schools pavilion formed part of the original 1951 show. We submitted several pieces: films of the Tangled Feet residencies and performances, The Crate film made by the Tallis Creators with Eelyn Lee Productions, a films about cultural learning and the arts made during our trip to Oklahoma, our Manifesto for Creative Tallis, and the designs created for the walls of the new building by Gilles & Cecilie Studio.
I happened to be at the Southbank yesterday and popped in to see the pavilion. I bumped into Rehana Mughal, one of the practitioners working on the exhibition, and she told me that we had won. Amazing!
What struck me most about the whole show was the very careful way the exhibits had been displayed and the way the experience of ordinary people who had visited the 1951 exhibition had been foregrounded. I then discovered that the exhibition had been co-curated with several volunteers and that they had all learned a huge amount about how curation works from the experience (see above film). Earlier in the week, I had been fortunate to meet two of the assistant curators at Tate Modern to discuss ways in which Thomas Tallis School could be more involved in the education aspects of the Tate's work. I will be joining the teacher consultation team in September. We had a great chat about several possible initiatives to encourage young people to think about how exhibitions are constructed and designed and the similarities between designing an exhibition and curating an ePortfolio. These skills of selection, visual communication, literacy and cultural awareness seem to be even more crucial on the web as young people find ever more sophisticated ways to share their talents or, with little thought and sense of responsibility for their digital presence, advertise their shortcomings and inadequacies.
I really look forward to the final two days of the Tallis Perspectives cross-curricular learning project, precisely because there is an expectation that the learning that has taken place is shared publicly in a series of exhibitions, performances and installations. In the 21st century, everyone is a curator!