When students come up with titles for their art works like ‘Original Sun Fluff’ ‘Crazy Pillow HOurs’, ‘ Wonderland Gears of Awesome’ ‘Brain Mars Wow!’ and ‘Unusual force from a Parallel Universe’ it is no wonder that Keila Martin loves her job.
“Working with children is great; they have no fear, speak their mind and consequently are very creative” she says as she scraps left over paint into small plastic pottles. Today’s education class has been busy responding to Rohan Wealleans ’exhibition Apocalyptic Intuition.
“Rohan uses paint in a way that most children have never encountered. In the education programme we help children discover painting techniques like sgraffio, impasto, and glazing and encourage them to think about how these relate to the works on display in current City Gallery exhibition.” Keila explains.
“The titles came from asking them to imagine what could be inside the Psychosis chamber of the oracle ( the title of the large head in Rohan Wealleans Apocalyptic Intuition) and getting them to write it down. Then, I asked them to come up with a code or symbol for that word. Next, they had to imagine where the head might have come from eg ‘Pluto’, ‘The Future’ etc, and then finally I asked them to response to his work with a word, eg, ‘strange’, ‘wonderful’”
Being derivative is not the aim. The idea of letting children form their own opinions about the artworks is crucial. “There is no wrong answer,” she says. As an educator Keila spends hours researching and developing lessons but, every day the freshness of seeing art through a child’s eye delights her.
“It’s like being inside a knitted jumper, a paint explosion” she says and the favourite answer she has received “a jungle dream” when she asked the children to describe how they felt when viewing Sian Torrington sculpture Soft is Stronger than Hard in recent The Obstinate Object exhibition .
A typical education session involves an exhibition tour, discussion about the themes the artist is exploring, the techniques they have employed, how it relates together as a body of work and then “doing art up in the little room” as one youngest explained.
“Throughout the duration of the exhibition my ideas, interpretations and perceptions are constantly being refreshed by what the children bring to each class,” Keila acknowledges.
With five years under her belt as a City Gallery employee ( three years in FOH and the past two as Gallery Educator) it’s fair to say when Keila Martin says “I love my job” she means it.
Find out more about the Education Programme here