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Sunny weather may have distracted us from the fact that October has arrived, and October is BIG DRAW month. I have just written a guest blog for Edexcel which will contextualise the Campaign for Drawing/Big Draw for those of you who want to know more: Find out more

I’ve just looked on the Campaign for Drawing website and there are so many activities going on across the UK that it really is worth your while looking in your geographical region:“Find an event near you
Big Draw events

Last week I spent a day with the Northumbria University Art and Design PGCE Trainee teachers at my favourite location, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. As a Big Draw Action Drawing Associate, my brief is to organise CPD which encourages others to feel empowered to create, design and run Big Draw sessions and activities. My aim was to create a small army of apprentices….our day started with looking at the context of the Big Draw/Campaign for Drawing, discussing definitions of drawing and sketch books, and then using scrap materials to make very personal little sketch books which will be part of an on-line project. Once a month they will photograph a new page in their books and send it to me. Everyone got a secret theme in a small envelope, to start their books off with.

I shared examples of mark making projects I had either done or seen in schools and we had a very honest discussion about what “drawing” actually was. The group were open to the idea that it really is anything.

We watched a video of Eileen Adams talking about drawing and spent time debating the types of drawings that people create. There was a strong consensus in the room that some schools were directing drawing and not allowing it to be expressive and meaningful. The trainee teachers really wanted to offer something different.

After lunch we had a group exercise, where they mapped their journey in and out of the gallery using a few rolls of electrical tape and a ton of creativity.

More sketch book time followed, at this point the sense of individuality and ownership of the books was inspiring to see and “feel”. I hardly dared call time on this reflective and thoughtful session.

After this we had two challenging tasks which developed from the idea of creating drawings and mark making without directly touching the materials used, so we had a fun session where plastic balls were rolled in paint and then thrown onto paper, an umbrella was turned into a drawing machine and bamboo poles became a wigwam to support paint dripping through a small hole in a rubber glove…..

The Big Draw training ended with sharing their sketch books, talking about the activity and how they could use this with others, appreciation of the time for creative moments and personal reflection in a very busy life.

Then we planned the next two stages: working in groups of three’s, the trainee teachers will design 25 minute workshops for teachers/educators who will attend the Action Drawing Symposium (at Baltic) on Thursday 13th October, 4 to 7 p.m. For these, they will build on their knowledge from the day and from further reading and research. On Friday 14th of October, seventy year 11, and year 12 students (from four local schools) will come to Baltic and our trainees and myself will engage them in different one hour workshops.

We looked at the different ways of designing for adults and for younger people and that will help the planning. Lucy Smith, Baltic’s schools programmer, told them about the spaces they could use in the gallery and everyone seem excited and motivated by all of this challenge.

I love the idea that I’m passing things on, that I’m being mentored by Eileen, that they are being mentored by me…and so on and so on.

I do have to say, after my second session with this group, I am more than happy that the future of art and design education is in very safe hands! They are cheerful, positive, determined, wise, thoughtful, reflective and so very creative.

RAINBOW FOR MISTER GOVE: PLEASE REFER TO THE PREVIOUS BLOGS FOR ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT. The support from across the UK has been staggering. But, if everyone who is involved can get one other person involved, then we can double up on our postal missives and make Mister Gove’s letterbox, in that first week of November, resound to the sight and the sound of creativity. The poster is here to print off: Campaign poster: Rainbow for Mister Gove


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  • @StuartHumphryes How very nice- most images of him are from when he was all white hair- this is lovely with that auburn Irish colouring. ☘️ 26 May 2022
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