Arts / Education

Visual Arts in Rural Communities at Highgreen

We now have, thanks to you, a fully working outdoor oven for baking bread and pizzas and other foods. This is located in beautiful deciduous woodland at Highgreen and will be a permanent feature that will allow visiting groups for years to come to experience outdoor baking alongside artistic creative activity.

VARC has been working to extend the experiences we can offer at Highgreen to every visitor, but in particular to young people across the region with Special Educational Needs. Highgreen is a beautiful place in immediate surroundings that naturally offer chances for many new experiences - woodland, moorland, barns and outbuildings, and large grassy outdoor areas. All the creative activities we lead make the most of this setting. However Gillian Dickinson funding is making it possible for us to extend and complement these activities. We now have, thanks to you, a fully working outdoor oven for baking bread and pizzas and other foods. This is located in beautiful deciduous woodland at Highgreen and will be a permanent feature that will allow visiting groups for years to come to experience outdoor baking alongside artistic creative activity. Last year groups from the charity Crossings (working with refugees and asylum seekers), Percy Hedley School and Thomas Bewick School all enjoyed the experience of outdoor baking and sharing of food alongside art activity and exploring.

Percy Hedley School in Newcastle caters for disabled children and young people. In July 2015, a group of students visited Highgreen to spend a morning foraging with Linus from Northern Wilds followed by bread making. Home-made nettle soup was provided for lunch and the afternoon was spent drawing and weaving with Artist Helen Pailing.

“I am ever so grateful for the opportunities the VARC project has given some of our students. Creativity comes from being exposed to different experiences and for some of our students, those opportunities are rare. Working in partnership with artists and in a different environment is a formidable experience that those students would have never had if it had not been for you. ….. Your work is vital to offering ‘experiences’ to the wider world, to those people who otherwise would not or could not access the artistic world that is out there. Thank you!!!!” - Nathalie Campbell, Percy Hedley Foundation, July 2015

Thomas Bewick School is a special needs school for children with autistic spectrum disorders in Newcastle. Also in July 2015, students from Thomas Bewick spent a day. The morning was spent exploring and forgaging. For lunch, pizzas were made from scratch and cooked on the outdoor clay oven. The afternoon was spent drawing and weaving with artist Helen Pailing.

“I visited Highgreen with a group of 11 students all of whom have autism. The visit was absolutely wonderful. The students were completely engaged through the whole visit and there was an abundance of experiential learning opportunities. There was something truly charming about foraging for our own food and then cooking it up in the pizza oven in the wood. Activities were accessible for all students no matter what level they were working at. It was a wholly inclusive day which both staff and students enjoyed immensely. We have had the students asking if we can visit every week! Thanks again” - Francesca Brown, Senior teacher Thomas Bewick School July 2015

This year four SEN schools have already visited Highgreen for arts activities that have included gathering sticks and making Highgreen charcoal to then draw with... and are currently developing arts projects with two SEN institutions that are too far away from Highgreen to make visits - The Grove in Berwick and New Warlands Farm in County Durham.

www.varc.org.uk

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