Pop-up art school revisited

Tue, 30 Nov 2010 16:11:00 GMT

The event facilitated by the pre-service PGCE/Cert Ed art and design group and was in collaboration between the University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield Art Gallery and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.  It 'popped up' on Wednesday 24 November in the Huddersfield Art Gallery and coincided with the exhibition of John Cage's art work and a performance of his music by the group named Apartment House as part of the music festival. The event featured lots of creative learning activity inspired by the composer and artist John Cage, including drawing and printing in response to music and art, making bags, bookmarks, postcards, video poetry and film-making.

Cage is 'in the news' at the moment - there is a campaign for his controversial piece of music entitled 4'33" (four minutes, thirty-three seconds of silence) to be the Christmas No 1! Musicians from the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival performed some John Cage work during the afternoon, with different instruments being played and amplified throughout the gallery. It was fascinating!

The art activities included drawing, printing and opportunities to make bags, books and postcards. Visitors contributed to a 'memory quilt' of chance events which grew and grew throughout the afternoon, and they also experimented with making video art. A popular activity was the chance to contribute to a 20ft floor painting, and to use an old fashioned typewriter to capture their experience of the afternoon in a three line poem.

Sarah Williamson, the tutor for the PGCE Further Education Art and Design group who organised the whole event, said 'No experience of art was necessary, the event was free and everyone welcome - whether people wished to take part, observe or just listen. People joined for the whole event or just 'popped in'. It proved popular, once again as a chance to have a restorative, cultural and creative break…'

The idea behind a 'Pop Up' is that something temporary pops up and then disappears! We had such a huge amount of positive feedback that I think the 'Pop-Up Art School' should pop up again soon! Pop-up art schools are defined as large scale, art based community learning events for members of the public, arts enthusiasts, students, children, families, senior citizens, schools, colleges and supported community groups. And our students have enabled pop-up art to appear in different locations to provide instant, exciting, temporary creative learning opportunities. 


"What a wonderful idea to have something which reaches out, bringing all ages together".

White dress created at the pop-up art school  Black and white dress created at the pop-up art school  

Pop-up art schools have now been a successful feature of the CertEd/PGCE (Lifelong Learning) course for four years - popping up in Queensgate and with the Music Festival in 2010, at Grove Lea Primary School and with the Music Festival in 2011 and 2012. The next event is due to be held jointly with Kirklees College, with the department for students with learning difficulties and disabilities in 2013. Our teacher training students benefit by experiencing community and informal learning, the value of creative reach-out work, learn how to organise a large scale arts event (they do the planning risk assessments, marketing, budgeting and collaboration), learn the value of team working, take up a challenge, take risks, increase their cultural capital and it gives them a fantastic insight into other contexts for learning and other sectors of education. On top of all that, it gives the students something different to add to CVs - the enhancement makes a difference in the jobs market!

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