On the 24th February and 2nd March myself, Alex Hirtzel (freelance artist) and Sobia Khan (Arts Educator) visited Oliver Thomas Nursery School and Elmhurst Primary School to work with their Newham Family Learning Groups and delivered creative collage making workshops on the themes of ‘Journeys’ and ‘Identity’.
The theme of ‘Journeys’ was inspired by the long and adventures journeys that the Dutch East India Company embarked on to reach the treasures of the East. We hoped that this theme would inspire project participants to consider and portray the many journeys that they have made throughout their lives. This theme was also inspired by the many beautiful paintings we have in the Wallace Collection of Dutch ships sailing in and out of harbour;
The theme of ‘Identity’ was inspired by the creation of the Dutch Republic in 1588 and the new national identity it was asserting for itself. (Until the 16th century, the Low Countries – roughly now corresponding to Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – consisted of a number of duchies, counties and bishoprics, most of which were under the supremacy of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1568 the Netherlands, led by William I of Orange, revolted against the King of Spain because of high taxes and persecution of Protestants by the government. This was the start of the Eighty Years’ War between the Netherlands and Spain. In 1588 the Dutch provinces became a republic). We hoped that this theme would encourage project participants to contemplate their own identity and the ways in which they define and express themselves.
For the collage making workshops I brought along printed images of artworks from the Wallace Collection and other images relating to the themes of ‘Journeys and Identity’ for the groups to cut up and arrange in their collages. The groups also experimented with using transport stencils to cut out different shapes from newspapers and magazines to add to their collages. The groups seemed to really enjoy creating the collages and incorporating pictures of maps, stamps, flowers and spices into their collages. Other popular themes for the collages were ‘Spice’ as many participants remember growing up next to and enjoying the fruits of nutmeg trees, clove and pepper fields. ‘Journeys’ was a popular theme as many of the participants remember travelling to England from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Africa.
Here are some pictures of the groups busy at work and the beautiful collages they made;