I first took part in the sketchbook circle in 2015 to help develop my own practice and work with other artist educators. I loved the experience and the deadline every month forced me to work on my own art and try new things. I loved the experience and am now in the fourth year of taking part. Every partner has been a different creative journey and my own practice has developed as part of the process. Pupils love seeing the sketchbooks and seeing my work.
I was inspired to try and develop a sketchbook circle at St Richard's. I asked colleagues from the art and design departments and six of us took part. This was really successful and everyone really enjoyed taking part in the project - and keeping the books at the end.
During September 2017, I opened up the project to the whole school and I was delighted when 15 members of staff signed up including teachers from the Maths, Science, English, MFL, Art and DT departments, TA's, former teachers and technicians.
We have kept it simple - the books move round in a circle and we pass on the next person in the circle as near to the first of the month as possible and as you can see from the selection of the work the outcomes have been fantastic. One participant has collaged the covers as she receives the books, there are scientific drawings, beautiful calligraphy, cyanotypes, ink & bleach, drawing, painting and many, many different techniques. As the project has progressed, the books have become more interesting and the artists have become braver with their responses.
I recently asked the participants to take part in a google questionnaire and I have had extremely positive responses. Everyone (who answered) enjoyed the project. They liked that the project forced them to dedicate time to art and found it relaxing. All loved seeing the others work as the sketchbooks went round. Comments included:
'I love this. It has really helped my well bring and is a nice ice breaker with staff.'
'It's something different and out of my comfort zone.'
'It's inspired me to do more work'
'I've really enjoyed having a chance to be creative - I haven't been artistic for a while so it's been lovely to get back to it!'
I have run a couple of workshops but I would like to develop the project further and hopefully next time make it part of the school CPD/Wellbeing programme and get some dedicated time for the project and involve others in running workshops. Small problems have arisen with moving the books around on time and I think this could be alleviated if we could find the time to meet up briefly every month!
It has been a great way for me to meet staff from around the school and a fantastic way of showcasing the art department and participants have enjoyed seeing their work on the school twitter account @strichardsart