Jim Grant

‘Building London’, Jim Grant

London is full of fantastic buildings originally designed for many purposes; some to mark a specific event such as Monument for the Great Fire of London, others, such as Tate Britain, were designed to exhibit a national collection, and others, such as Tate Modern, whose original purpose (power station) had become redundant, replaced by a totally new and unforeseen function (Art Gallery/Museum).

The aim of this project was to work with a number of children from Shacklewell Primary School in Dalston, Hackney to produce photographic images that represent their developing ideas on how buildings in London may mean different things to different people.

The project was led by the school’s then Head of Art, Jim Grant. The children worked with digital cameras and photographic manipulation software to explore an idea of architecture that Architectural Historian Aoife Mac Namara explains: ‘How buildings mean what they do to different people, at different times and different contexts has as much to do with the way they are used and encountered by their publics, as it has to do with the original design of the architect’.

In essence the children created images of buildings or parts of buildings in ways that indicate what a building may ‘stand for’ or ‘function as’ is not fixed by the architect but is forever changing in relation to those who use or encounter the material form.

Their interests, such as in sliding down the slope in the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern, looking from the windows on a bus, using the lifts in St Pancras Station and talking to those who work within some of the buildings are explored and captured within the images they selected for this exhibition.

‘Building London’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The project ran from April to September 2009.

‘Stepping Out Into The Open’, Jim Grant

‘Stepping Out Into The Open’ explored how Shacklewell School’s inner city children responded to ideas of the ‘English Countryside’ both as a place to visit and as an idea represented in art.

The project was led by the school’s then Head of Art, Jim Grant. The Year 6 children involved in the project all came from very different ethnic and cultural backgrounds; yet all shared a great curiosity to understand how photography can be a vehicle to explore personal experience in relation to public knowledge and understanding of how artists have formed particular ideas of what the countryside around cities should look like and for whom. These ‘Landscapes’ formed the starting points from which the children learned about and responded to the different ways photography has been used by various artists.

Andy Goldsworthy, whose arrangements of found natural materials encouraged the children to develop ideas on how photography can represent nature as holding ‘powers’ of self healing and continuation. Through the photography of Leslie Thompson, the children explored how the countryside could be represented as an escape from modern urban life, and through the work of Ori Gersht they explored how the use of photography creates a sense of memory of a particular place in the landscape.

The children were encouraged to think about how they may re-tell their own stories to create their own personal ‘landscapes’. Most of the project was spent outside including wandering over Hampstead Heath and hiking in the woods of the Chilterns. It was inspiring to see the children attempting to understand the relationship between the real and the pictured and to be excited by things they could touch, smell, see and most importantly climb.

‘Stepping Out Into The Open’ was commissioned by HS Projects and funded by the Insight Community Arts Programme (2002 – 2015).

The Project ran from April to September 2008.