Today I visited ‘Child Heaven International School’, a weekend art school for children. Amazing place! There are about 300 studends crowded into a small space, all diligently working on images from their imaginations, or copied from books. The atmosphere of intense concentration from the smallest child to the many young student staff and volunteers was inspirational.

February 14, 2010

The art school hires the premises from a local school so they can only be there on the weekends. The children buy and bring their own paper and pastels, but they are given a ‘library’ book each week to take home and read. The small ones sit on the floor quietly working in groups for an hour and a half (impressive!), the older students at wooden benches.

Boys preparing flags for the National Language Day celebration

The learning style is so different to how we were taught to teach. In many of the sketchbooks the students copied the same picture 3 or 4 times until it was ‘right’, even the very little ones. Their stamina in these exercises and skill was eye-opening. I wonder how UK children would cope?

Very shy girl showing me her sketchbook

The staff at the school seemed delighted that I visited (though it felt as though it should have been the other way around. I left loaded with gifts and a promise to return in two weeks and do a project with the children.

I did ask some of the younger staff what would be appropriate and showed them some of my previous work. They are taken with the box projects so will try do that in a day for them. Just hope they understand that it will be a very condensed version!

People here seem so keen to please, they smile and nod a lot, though have learnt that this does not always mean that they understand. Will make sure I take lots of art materials with me so that, if nothing else, they will be able to use them again.

After class, some of the staff took me on a tour of the area. It is such a shame there is not more time to really learn more of the language and culture. Still, easier with them to translate and bargain. I bought some more shola; a sort of soft wood or pith that would be good to combine with paper somehow.

With some of the art school staff in Laxmibazar

I have selected some of the children’s work to take back with me to London. It would be wonderful to organise some sort of collaborative exhibition, prehaps sending some work back from London as well. Lasting impression of whole day is the pride everyone, both staff and students took in their small school and their work. Oh and discipline problems non-existent!

Caterpillar studies.

As to what this experience may bring to my own work…. I am not sure yet. The school gave me a song book the children sang from for me; some very patriotic songs that everyone knows. It may be interesting to work from these….Songs and poetry are definately a hugely important part of the culture.

Singing class

I fear there are loads of typos in these pages but to edit seems to take ages and there is so much to do out and about…..hope you can get the gist!

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