Hertfordshire County Art Collection Art Trail event
By Catherine Davis
Just before the schools broke up for the summer, the County Art Collection welcomed several groups of Year 6 children, from schools across Hertfordshire, to take part in the first ArtTrail event. It had been arranged as part of the national Shine Week Arts Festival but we thought it was a great excuse for children to come to the collection’s base so they could work with the art directly.
We wanted them to look at different types of art in the collection. 2D and 3D art was chosen that used different techniques such as metalworking, printmaking, collage or watercolour. A range of subjects were selected including portraits, still life and landscape. Items from the whole lifetime of the collection (1940’s up until 2009) were represented. The children tried their hands at various activities including matching details from the artworks with the original piece (not always as easy as it sounds). In one case you had to look very hard to find an eyeball hidden in the picture but it was satisfyingly gruesome when you did.
Another activity saw them each being given a square of a painting which they had to copy. They all worked very hard at this and when the squares were put together to recreate the original the results were very striking. I was deeply impressed by their skill at scaling the images up to fill their blank squares. It was fascinating to see their versions hung by the originals. Some of them were meticulous about their approach while others worked in a much more impressionistic way. Their versions clearly reproduced the image of the original while at the same time looking quite fresh.
I was equally impressed by their ability to manage complete the tasks they’d been given. When I was their age the results would have been a great deal less impressive.
As the Anthony Gormley project had just begun in Trafalgar Square, Diane Knapman thought it would be a fun idea to provide them their own plinth to try out their ideas. This was very popular and proved a fun way of passing part of the visit for all of us.
I know I greatly enjoyed working with the 66 children who came from schools in Markyate, Rickmansworth, Buntingford, London Colney, Great Amwell, Newgate Street, Hemel Hempstead and Tonwell. They seemed to enjoy their time on the whole as well and I loved these comments when asked what they thought or enjoyed about the experience “I didn’t have one favourite thing because I enjoyed it all” and “Trying to find the little things in the big things”.