Teresa Grimaldi : Art to Start

Teresa Grimaldi

Art to start


Following a successful dissemination event in June, project Artist Teresa Grimaldi reflects on her experience of the DAISI Art to Start project. My PART or “take me back to the start” (Coldplay). It is all about reflection. The project was to actively use the reflective cycle as explored in our initial training sessions with Project Consultants Sandra Barefoot and Mike Akers. This was to become a crucial element of the whole experience. We (the artist and the setting staff) set aside ½ a day directly after the practical session each week to discuss the children’s journey, through looking at digital photos, video and writing.

From there we would plan the next week’s session. During the training session Louise Carter, Nursery Teacher at Honiton Primary School, and I discussed our starting point or ‘provocation’– an investigation of lace as material. A huge pile of lace in the space of the mobile classroom would be the initial ‘provocation’ offered to the children. The space was transformed by covering it from ceiling to floor in white sheeting. This would become the artists’ studio. We had the luxury of being able to keep the installation up between sessions. The first week’s activities could still be referenced by week six. Our journey crossed shadow worlds, giant elastic bands, a tour of children’s front doors, and opening the charcoal drawn doors and windows by cutting, tearing and punching holes. And that was all by week two. We paused (as we had the luxury to do so) to consider the position of adults as scaffolding, to frame child initiated learning. Questions began to emerge about when to intervene, when to stand back. Art to Start (early years) Art to Start dissemination event By week three the children painted houses, animated puppets and found them homes and were still using the white sheets. We decided to take a detour into printmaking by week 5.

This was our problematic week. Louise and I both felt that the free investigation had gone too far, becoming chaotic and very very messy, which worried parent helpers. We pulled back for the last week’s session, which would involve the whole class illustrating my puppet “Mr Printer’s” secret journey through the school. Previously the children were given free choice to enter the ‘studio’ or not. It was frustrating that some chose not to. Was this the end? “Take me back to the start.” Dissemination The artists and teachers began to arrive to prepare and set out installation/displays to accompany our 15 minute presentations. An air of nervous excitement prevailed – a feeling of a game show as we waited to be let into the space where the event was to happen.

Louise and I spread out traces and documentation (photographs and words) of the journey and feverishly put up our display. Double-sided tape down - the invitees are arriving. Learning was being made visible. The children’s learning, the practitioners’ learning, the artists’ learning. Journeys were shared and it was comforting to hear about everyone’s problem week. It has not been an easy trek. We all raised questions – reflected - took them forward then raised more questions. The thing I would never question though was why I took part - it was a privilege. Teresa Grimaldi Art to Start project artist Art to Start is an action research project exploring approaches to creative exploration in early years settings. Artists and setting staff worked in partnership, with built in time for documenting, evaluating and planning together. Art to Start was funded by zero14plus. DAISI is currently looking at how to develop and extend the project. An Art to Start written summary report will shortly be available from DAISI. We will send a copy to all participating settings and artists and all training day and dissemination attendees. Please do contact the DAISI office if you are not one of the above and would like to receive a copy.