Pop-Up Gallery Project
The Pop-Up Gallery project was an action research project which aimed to find answers to the question:
What is the best way to create and present a visual arts exhibition to children?
The project was supported by The Mighty Creatives, as part of their Creative Exchanges programme, and involved 3 Leicester Schools - Spinney Hill Primary, Sandfield Close Primary and Braunstone Frith Junior Schools.
Four months of work with project leader and artist Helen Gyngell resulted in the creation an amazing range of artwork from all three schools, under the subject of Portraiture. Teams of Young Curators from each school then organised an exhibition of the work in a studio at Phoenix Square as part of the Spark Festival from 6th - 12th June.
The Spark is committed to offering visual arts to children as part of the festival, but we need a better understanding of how to do this. By working with 3 groups of children from 3 different Leicester city primary schools we hoped to understand how to create and market an attractive, dynamic exhibition space that will draw children through the door and to reveal the wonder and excitement of the visual arts through the display and interpretation.
The resulting ‘Portrait Palace’ was colourful, bright, airy space, that presented work from children aged 7 to 11, and presented it beautifully.
The impact on children and adults who came to the gallery was one of visible delight and surprise. The Lord Mayor’s presence confirmed the importance of the gallery for the children who attended.
The gallery was open to the public at the weekend, and also opened specially for visits from schools, both those involved in the project and those that weren‘t.
The following are a selection of the many comments from the visitors book and on post-it notes:
“Very proud to see Casey’s art work displayed in such a lovely way." Proud mum [sic]
“An inspiration to all who come to see the talent of our future, what imagination and enthusiasm."
“ This has been the nicest, calmest experience."
“Wow, what a fab display. We‘ve got lots of ideas we can take back to school and try for ourselves. The children found lots to take and think about. We are first in the queue if you do this again and would like someone to work with.“Croft Primary School
“I feel privileged to have watched your work."
“What a really splendid exhibition! The artists have been inspired to look beyond artistic convention, it‘s inspired me." Jenny Cook Chair of LeicesterSociety of Artists
“I really liked the picture of Henry the Eighth because it‘s colourful, it made my heart happy! I loved this place, I wish I could come again."
“I really liked it, I have never been to a gallery before."
“A great , fabulous art gallery. I loved the papermache men."
“The work makes me feel really happy."
Practical lessons from the project
The Pop Up Gallery, a gallery for and by younger children, presented one way to create an exhibition and it has left us with some important lessons for future visual arts projects.
The project also made it absolutely clear that children get great enjoyment and inspiration from looking at art in a gallery, and are not put off by a more formal setting, if it is lively and social as well.
This project was supported by The Mighty Creatives. We would also like to thank Blueprint for the use of the Studio at Phoenix Square.