April 11, 2013, by Malvika Johal

Cascade Funds the Lakeside Literacy Project

Written by Abi Blaylock 

The Cascade-funded Lakeside Literacy Project gives creative writing students the chance to develop and lead literacy workshops for local schoolchildren at Lakeside Arts Centre. So far this academic year eight second and third year student volunteers have worked with more than two hundred inner-city kids in the Djanogly Gallery, using the artwork to inspire the childrens’ writing.

Playwright Peter Rumney and teacher Joy Buttress ran a training day in March to give the students ideas on how to use the current Michelle Stuart exhibition as a catalyst for the workshops, as second year University of Nottingham student Abi Blaylock explains:

“I attended the Lakeside training day on 8th March. When I arrived in the morning, there were five other students there, plus Ruth, Joy, Peter and Clare, who were training us. First we heard a little bit about how the project works and then we were let loose to look around the exhibition.

The exhibition we’re working with is by Michelle Stuart and it’s all to do with nature; there are books made of earth, huge maps and a sketch of the surface of the moon. We used the artwork to make up stories which we told to each other. Next we made rubbings from big white seashells and pine cones. We did all this to practice what we would be doing with the children later.

When the children turned up, they did all the same activities and came up with some amazing stories. My favourite so far was from the following week when a group created an explorer’s adventure, including traps set by Tutankhamen, from a photo montage of a dry desert.

The last activity the children do is inventing a story from a set of 60 pictures called Ring of Fire. Peter modelled this activity, showing how to jump from picture to picture and also how you can use existing stories retold, such as colonial narratives or science-fiction plots. I saw how a story can be completely re-imagined but still maybe give children their first glimpse of what will become a familiar theme or history.

I’m looking forward to the next workshops – I feel like I’m getting so much better at making up stories off the top of my head – and I’m excited to work through all these activities with children from more schools around Nottingham.”

You can find out more about the Cascade fund and the transformative student projects like the Lakeside Literacy Project being supported at www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign/cascade

The Michelle Stuart Exhibition at the Lakeside Arts Centre runs until 14 April. For more information please see www.lakesidearts.org.uk/Exhibitions.html

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