Mostly pupils’ work lives in a drawer at school. Sometimes the better pieces are mounted on a piece of coloured paper and taped on a wall somewhere around the art department. Very occasionally a particularly impressive piece of work might make it into a frame elsewhere in school. We all like a little recognition for our best efforts and achievements. My pupils are no different and like to see their work appear elsewhere around school.
It is extremely rare that pupil work makes the jump from the confines of the school building to a truly public space. On the part of the teacher this always involves extra work and organisation. As a teacher I am prepared to make that extra effort but with two criteria that I feel make it worth the extra effort.
- it must be a location where the work is actually going to be seen by a broader public
- it must be a location where the work can actually be nicely presented in a space where it looks good
These two criteria don’t sound too complicated but are actually in practice fairly difficult to meet. But knowing that I had some good work from a group of classes I set out looking for a suitable venue. The local museum of the town where I teach (Oss, in the Netherlands) was for a time an option. Highly suitable, but at present they are going throughout a process of reorganization and so that possibility fell by the wayside. However, with the help of the museum’s excellent education department I was put onto the town’s council offices. The modern architecture of the building offers a very good exhibition space in its foyer that with, not too much imagination, could easily pass as an gallery space in a museum of modern art….a fact that I feel sure won’t be lost on my pupils when they see the exhibition of their work that I have set up this afternoon.
The exhibition is small, showing just three works. All three are group projects made by a total of seven different classes over the last three years. All three relate to war and violence and how it is represented in art and the media. The works make use of references to Picasso’s Guernica, Goya’s 3rd May and the piles of discarded shoes from the victims of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
It’s all quite heavy material, but the new presentation of the collages and sculpture give an extra credibility and one that gives me a sense of satisfaction and the pupils too it hope.