New resource to inspire creative projects

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In summer 2016, Cultivate ran projects in three schools, under the heading of Exploring Nine Elms. This downloadable resource shares the approaches of these projects, providing inspiration for teachers, creative practitioners and cultural consultants to develop their own creative learning projects inspired by changing places.

Each project plan reflects the process of each of the three different practitioners who delivered the Exploring Nine Elms projects: Architect Wendy Smith, Designer Jasper Sutherland and Artist Anne Harild. The plans are fairly detailed but can be easily adapted to work for different age groups in different types of places, or to link to different curriculum topics. They are also designed to be open for teachers/artists or young people to apply to their own ideas, needs or curriculum subjects.

Exploring Nine Elms was one of the first Cultivate projects to test approaches for cultural learning workshops. Three creative practitioners across the fields of fine art, architecture and design led workshops with three different schools in Nine Elms (two primaries and one secondary) during June and July 2016. The elements we were piloting included:

  • testing the limits of the new Cultivate Planning Workbook, to see how it worked to help creative practitioners and educators plan and evaluate projects
  • comparing the approaches of three different types of creative practitioner, and how each could contribute to the needs of schools
  • reaching out to offer projects to schools that were interested in accessing creative learning focused on the local regeneration area
  • the participation of developers and local cultural organisations
  • exploring and sharing innovative practice in exploring places, careers, creativity, design and the built environment with schools and young people.

This resource helps fulfil this last element of our ambitions for Exploring Nine Elms.

We hope you enjoy it, and please do let us know if you find it useful.

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Cultivate is delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture for Wandsworth Council and the Nine Elms Vauxhall partnership, with coordination provided by Flow Associates, culture and education specialists.

Funded by A New DirectionWandsworth Council, Lambeth Council and Nine Elms developers and is one of seven projects in A New Direction’s London Cultural Education Challenge.

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Exploring a design career

Cultivate Routes is the strand of the Cultivate programme that supports careers education, focusing on creative roles and opportunities related to place-making. A big part of Cultivate Routes is a workshop that will be available for primary and secondary schools all around Nine Elms, led by creative and place-making professionals. The idea is that pupils can have a direct and friendly encounter with someone doing interesting, inspiring work, who can challenge them to try out a task they typically face in their jobs.

We have just piloted two of these workshops. One was led by designer, Fatima Khuzem, working with a Design & Technology class in Ark Bolingbroke Academy.

Fatima’s workshop in Ark Bolingbroke Academy was with a GCSE Design & Technology group. It focused on product design, and being mindful about the needs of users. Fatima first introduced her own route into design, starting with when she was a curious 16 year old, the same age as the participants. She went through the stages of her career development, aiming to show the diversity of different roles, mindsets and work settings in a design career. These different places included university projects, a design studio, a large company and being a freelancer. She is currently studying for a masters’ degree at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, in a course called MA Narrative Environments. This uses storytelling and imagination to create experiences and solve problems for people. This was helpful to show that you can continue your studies at any point in your career, not just at the start. Although a product designer, she showed how her different roles have used other design methods or skills such as Spatial Design, Service Design and Graphic Design. For example, developing signage and wayfinding for an airport draws on all three.

Several of the pupils commented that this diversity of routes into work was new learning for them; “that it’s easy to change in a creative career”.

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Fatima introducing her work

The main part of the workshop was a practical activity that set them a challenge to design a product for an imagined person, who has a problem in a certain setting. Fatima gave groups a person, a problem and a setting, from a random set of prompts. The students played roles in pairs, one a designer, one the user, questioning them about their problem. The people included a dyspraxic young person, a lonely 50 year old and a busy parent, so this first task called for lots of empathy and good questioning techniques. The next steps were to write a design brief (i.e. to identify the need and commission a solution), to ideate (to generate ideas), to select the best ideas and also to combine or flip them, to get feedback from the user, and then to sell their idea in a visual presentation. In the ideation stage, they were encouraged to think like an artist, or like a younger child. In the final stage, they were asked to think like a business person.

As an example, one group invented a rotating cycle storage rack for a train station, that would allow bikes to be stored quickly to speed up the commute.

“I enjoyed learning about how to reach and join a product design path and what comes after education. I also enjoyed the designing aspect.” Pupil

“I found out that working together and collecting other people’s opinions and ideas are useful in designing something.” Pupil

“There are an abundance of things you must consider when designing – especially the user.” Pupil

This workshop encouraged open thinking about the role of designer, the diversity of mindsets and situations you find yourself in. The teacher observed that the students were all engaged, listening and on task, and that they appreciated seeing lots of examples and discovering a wider context for how design is applied. She was pleased that the session explored transferrable skills and the importance of collaboration. She also gave some practical suggestions about injecting more pace into the session, and insisting that everyone makes a drawing. The students struggled to come up with questions for Fatima, so future participants may need more thematic prompts to know what to ask, especially as the workshop leaders will be strangers to them.

Fatima found the session useful too. It helped her reflect on her own career and see how one can design your own life using design methods, and was interested to learn from the responses of the young people.

She realised that the workshop would be even better with some examples of local companies or design practitioners working in the Nine Elms. Our aim is to add more stories of people working in or based in the regeneration area to the People Who Make Places series on this website, so do get in touch with ana.ospina@flowassociates.com if you have a story to tell.

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A group gets down to work, designing a product to solve somebody’s problem

Cultivate is delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture for Wandsworth Council and the Nine Elms Vauxhall partnership, with coordination provided by Flow Associates, culture and education specialists.

Funded by A New DirectionWandsworth Council, Lambeth Council and Nine Elms developers and is one of seven projects in A New Direction’s London Cultural Education Challenge.

A taste of Chocolate Films

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Children at St Mary’s school working out camera angles for their film scenes

Cultivate Routes is the strand of the Cultivate programme that supports careers education, focusing on creative roles and opportunities related to place-making. One in every six jobs in London is in a creative sector, and this is likely to grow, so it’s important for children to know what is possible in their own futures. A big part of Cultivate Routes are workshops that will be available for primary and secondary schools all around Nine Elms, led by creative and place-making professionals. The idea is that pupils can have a direct and friendly encounter with someone doing interesting, inspiring work, who can challenge them to try out a task they typically face in their jobs.

We have just piloted two of these workshops. One was led by Reece Lipman, a film-maker with Battersea-based Chocolate Films, working with a class from St Mary’s Primary school.

The St Mary’s children found out about the different roles involved in making a film, then undertook an activity introducing them to pre-production tasks, how to craft a story and techniques for shooting. Their task was to make a film with only 5 shots, which had to fit within a genre such as romance. They began by watching a film called For the Birds, analysing all the different camera angles and what each shot revealed and concealed. They then explored how a typical story has a basic structure where a hero encounters an obstacle on a journey. Working in teams they made their own storyboards based on this. They used cardboard frames to contain their actions within their scenes, and posed behind them for each of their 5 shots. The session concluded with questions for Reece about how to become a film-maker, and some reflection on what they had learned.

When asked what they enjoyed, most said they liked having a go at acting and getting their hands on a camera. Some said they enjoyed the elements where they were listening and watching, for example, learning from Reece about film-making and analysing the shots in a film. Some liked the team work: “I enjoyed acting and watching movies and getting together and doing things we would not usually do.”

When asked what they found out, most mentioned the practical learning about story structure and technique, but many also commented on the life and role of being a film-maker, for example, “…being a film maker is much cooler than I thought it would have been”, “there are different stages in film life and you don’t just do it all at once” and “no matter what you get you have to make it into something you love.” Framing this practical activity within an awareness of what it could involve to be a film-maker in future seemed to work well to situate their learning, and empowered them to consider themselves as potential creatives.

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A scene captured through a frame

Feedback from the teacher Luke Doyle was positive, “the day was an excellent opportunity for the children to learn about the available careers and to get hands on.” He felt the pupils produced some good work, and it was especially good to see boys really enjoying making romantic narratives. He had contributed a lot to the content of the workshop to ensure that it would meet literacy outcomes. He suggested that future workshops should be designed to have less talk from the front, and more practical activity.

Reece reflected on the challenge of meeting the children’s needs for learning in literacy, while also delivering the brief of giving children an insight into a creative career. We will look at ways to adjust this pilot workshop to ensure that this balance works as well as possible for primary children, delivering what teachers need while also extending the experiences of children.

Cultivate is delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture for Wandsworth Council and the Nine Elms Vauxhall partnership, with coordination provided by Flow Associates, culture and education specialists.

Funded by A New DirectionWandsworth Council, Lambeth Council and Nine Elms developers and is one of seven projects in A New Direction’s London Cultural Education Challenge.