Picture this. It is a Sunday morning and parents decided that today’s family outing will be to one of London’s wonderful art galleries. Next is the usual chaos of getting everyone ready, out of the door followed by travel on the tube to the museum of choice. Finally, after carefully navigating the museum crowd the family is in front of a famous art work. The experience of it is a little underwhelming.
Parents do their best to look at what the description next to the painting says, explain to their children that they are witnessing the work of a very famous artist and that many people travel the world to see it here, in London. Children listen for a short while and then are eager to move on. Family proceeds to the next painting and the next painting looking at artworks, doing their best to engage with those, until finally children are tired and parents feel that there has been enough art appreciation for today and they all leave.
Does this sound like a familiar experience? If not, you are, probably, in the minority as after going to art galleries around the world for years this is what I have witnessed hundreds of times. My understanding why this happens is that people and artworks are strangers at first and therefore engagement is friendly but cautious. It seems that everyone has the same questions and those are self-conscious. Am I looking at this painting correctly? What I am supposed to see here? If I say something, will it be correct? I don’t know enough about the artist, so better to not voice my opinion as it will be empty or worse, I will sound silly. Intimidating and even humiliating, right?
“Vincent and Frida” was created with the mission to open doors into the art world for children as young as 7, so that our students learn to approach artwork examination confidently and with depth. We want children to know that a lot of the connection between artwork and a person happens by simply looking at art in detail without a fear and self-imposed limitations.
We give children facts, social and historical context, so another layer of the understanding is added. And most importantly, we use hands-on experiences and games to help children engage with a topic fully, as children learn through the play effortlessly and joyfully and we certainly want to keep art fun. We also ask children to reflect and share their thoughts with us and each other about an artwork in question, so we can demonstrate that each person may have a different view on the subject and there are no right or wrong opinions, and that everyone has something very valuable to share. We are not focusing on developing drawing or painting skills in our classes, what we are really teaching is full engagement.
If you love art yourself, you probably already can see how our offering can help your child. For parents who want to understand practical benefits of such classes, I have prepared some facts to demonstrate that engaging in the art appreciation has many benefits for your children. Here is the list:
· Supports a good habit of taking time to think deeper
· Demonstrates the value of higher order thinking as child learns to compare and contrast,
analyse, construct meaning and understanding and criticise
· Teaches focus and combats the effects of the modern world and its “click click culture”
· Illustrates history through images created by people who lived during the period
· Reminds to be respectful and mindful about other cultures and new ideas
· Connects children in a meaningful discussion and helps to observe that people bring
themselves into constructing understanding of what message an artwork conveys
· Nurtures sense of wellbeing through healthy curiosity and wonder
All of the above are useful both in classrooms and everyday life and if practiced such skills will be very useful throughout life.
Our focus is not on the technical side of art and we do not aim to create young artists. The course is written by the educator and experienced international museum curator Sophia Sadovskaya and if you read the interview with her here you will see why she was invited to collaborate with “Vincent and Frida”. We look to craft young thinkers who will walk into an art museum and will confidently and joyfully engage with paintings around them without holding back.
If you want your child to become one of “Vincent and Frida” 10 students, please go to www.vincentandfrida.com/course-information.
You can either choose to sign up to one of the 2019 taster sessions or for a weekly lessons course which will start in January 2020.
Weekly courses will run on Friday evenings in Kensington and Saturday mornings near Russell Square, Central London.