Students help illuminate the wilderness


Second year students from BA (Hons) Fine Art and BA (Hons) Art and Design recently spent some time on placement with Tate Liverpool working with Project Art Works. Students worked on the Illuminating the Wilderness exhibition, an installation created by artists and people with a variety of complex needs.

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During their second year, all Birmingham School of Art students get the opportunity to get some industry experience through our Work Placement module. The module enables students to develop professional attributes and subject skills through real-life experience in the work place, and for them to critically reflect upon their learning in context. For this project, students had to go through an application process where they had to express interest and why they wanted the placement in no more than 200 words.

Illuminating the Wilderness started life in 2018 as a film, documenting the exploration of a remote Scottish Glen by people who are highly sensitive to the sensory stimuli of the world around them. The film follows a number of Project Art Works artists and makers as they investigate Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands.

Complementing the film was an evolving installation of artwork made in collaboration with neurodiverse people and groups from Social Care organisations from Merseyside, which was the groups the students worked with during their placement. Beginning as plain white paper hangings, the installation was increasingly populated by drawings and paintings created by neurodiverse people through a series of workshops in the gallery.

The experience gave the students a chance to work on their people skills in a customer orientated situations, improving their communication skills. They also had to be self-reliant and willing to learn, as their roles included a large amount of problem solving and understanding the role and aim of Project Art Works. Working in teams, the students had the chance to observe how the artists interacted with the participants and support the creation of the artwork.

Project Art Works is the UK’s leading artist-led organisation working with neurodiverse adults, young people and children. Illuminating the Wilderness is part of a wider collaborative project entitled EXPLORERS 2019, which sees Tate Liverpool and Project Art Works together with six other major partners in the UK and Australia.

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