Monday, January 17, 2011

Jam Packed talks to Metal Design Studio Creative Director Christian Hall about the Gilles Street Primary School Project

Tell us about the project at Gilles Street
The project is an Artist in Residency program at the school where members of the Metal Design studio (Creative Director Christian Hall and Associates Hannah Carlyle and Peta Kruger) work at the school on two main projects. The first to develop a range of artist-made toys and the second a series of workshops for staff and students based on the theme identity and exploring sculpture through the accessible medium of jewellery and the body, and growing across larger scales and sites. The aim of the residency is to provide an inclusive sculptural experience that is international in scope for students, teachers and artists.

What are the major benefits of training students as young as 11 years old about design thinking? Future growth - The core idea that is central to this project is that these students are active participants in the creation of their own material culture – now and in the future.

By working with young students and allowing them access to “design thinking” + the creative development of their own concepts then to see these concepts realised as professional outcomes manufactured to the highest degree of finish we aim to plant the seed for future growth in these individuals and the design sector. This project may be the spark that ignites a passion that sees one of our students go on to become an architect, artist, designer etc.

Application to other areas – Students can draw upon the problem solving skills and lateral thinking experienced in “design thinking” and find application for these skills in other area of the school’s curriculum. Design is not just about the creation of things but about developing a self defined process for thinking through problems. This process has broad application. 

Inclusivity - Design a pre-linguistic, open ended and semiotic form of expression that transcends boundaries of age, race and gender. The medium is perfectly suited to create an inclusive and playful learning environment, especially for the diverse group Gilles Street Primary School – Gilles St Primary supports a New Arrivals Program which makes up one third of the schools population. Over 40 different cultural groups are represented. Working with “toys” and 3D sculpture is the ideal vehicle to encourage enquiry, interaction and play between artists, students and teachers.

What do you hope that the students themselves will learn from or take away from the project? 
Through this program I would like to see each student develop a connection with one or all of the artists involved that they can draw upon in the future. This connection could be a direct resource for the students; a way of gaining knowledge, information and insight into contemporary practice, or an in indirect resource; the experience serving to demystify the creative process and profession.

In addition to this, by developing the students concepts to a professional manufacturing and presentation benchmark we are aiming to help students will realise their own potential for excellence beyond limits previously imagined. We want them to be excited about art, craft and design practice
What personally do you enjoy about being involved? 
Working with the school, with the staff and students forces me to re-evaluate my own creative practice and the profession generally. The students are so honest in their response to projects and work and their approach to their own making can be very surprising. Where students find challenges and opportunities in the creation of works is very different to artist working at a professional level but the process is the same. Seeing students overcome blocks and the go on to stretch and play with ideas so freely is great. It is very invigorating because it’s essentially the same

Seeing this process occur for the associates involved in the project is also great. The challenges they face working in the educational context and in particular with young children, are very different to those in any other area of their practice. I feel they gain a much better and more holistic understanding of their own motivations by being involved and I can see that when they have worked at the school they feel satisfied and excited by the experience.

On the whole I feel that a whole other area of what we do is valued in this project, and we feel valued by the students and staff. It’s a very enjoyable experience overall.
 as process as my own with different constraints, only I never know what the students are going to value or why. When I ask them the answers can reveal a surprisingly sophisticated grasp of the world and that makes me think that the partnership between a school and a professional arts organisation, between student and artists, can bare real fruit. I am excited about what the marriage of the students ideas and view of the world and our technical, professional and creative know how can do together! In a way this is teaching me to be allot less precious about my own approach.

Gillies Street Jam is showing in the Atrium from 5 February - 13 March