Contemporary Art Space Project Year 2 update

Introducing ‘Delight in the Sky’

Defying all the challenges of Covid-19 and the necessary restrictions it created for everyone in our daily lives, we have (more or less) pulled off Year 2! So what a true delight it is to introduce you to ‘Delight in the Sky’ by Haseebah Ali and the pupils at Abbeywood First School – as pictured above.

Working with project partners iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts), we appointed the Year 2 artists, De’Anne Crooks, Toni Lewis and Haseebah Ali to be the artists in very-short-residence with three RSA schools; Holyhead School, RSA Academy in Tipton and Abbeywood First School respectively. We rode the bumps of school closures to all but keyworker and vulnerable children in January to March, staff absence and allowed the time necessary for children and staff to re-assimilate back into school, to deliver the three sessions of the ArtLab with the pupils leading the project.

ArtLab explorations

The workshops devised by the artists and art therapist were highly valued at each school as a means of focusing and exploring emotions that have surfaced over the pandemic. Each artist created incredible experiences and spaces of support and care. Iniva’s emotional learning cards were incorporated into sessions by the artist and art therapist, Julie Buxton. These sessions created an awareness of who makes art and what contemporary art can look like, alongside allowing pupils to explore their emotions in connection to making, supported by Julie. At Holyhead the students were taken on a journey of words and language, playing with positioning of artworks, shared making and finding confidence in their voices with De’Anne. De’Anne’s response artwork will be installed in September 2021.

An ‘outlet room’ at RSA Academy in Tipton was created outside by Toni, that saw students breaking apart old equipment, reusing this to create new artwork. The workshops progressed to include mindfulness sessions, discussions and making, resulting in an exhibition curated and installed of the students work across the school. Toni’s in response artwork will be installed in September 2021.

At Abbeywood First School, the students explored the themes of identity and oracy, with Hassebah and Julie, using water pistols filled with water colours to paint, marbling techniques, finger painting and creating clay characters. These characters became a way to really showcase the pupils’ thoughts around who they are. The pupils made homes and thought up back stories for each character and shared these with the group.

Come the close of the academic year 2020-21, Haseebah’s work, as pictured above, has been installed at Abbeywood. Created using lino printing, the artworks are contained in perspex cubes creating a small tower – and called, inspired by the pupils, Delight in the Sky. The work is in located in a central courtyard, inside the school. The children explored identity and which led Haseebah to the theme of escapism. She used lino print as a way to introduce the children to a new method of art-making, and created images of clouds, and the countryside – places to escape to that might create a few seconds of mindfulness during a busy school day.

Here is Haseebah talking about her work and how she hopes the pupils will experience the artwork as they move around the school during their day.

Touring Schools

Year 2 heralded the introduction of ‘touring schools’. Three new schools became the locations and audience for the artworks from year 1. The teachers were given learning resources and CPD sessions to inspire whole school excitement and energy for how the schools might respond and make the opportunity relevant for them. The year 2 touring schools are:

  • St Stephen’s CE First RSA Academy – ‘We Start Here’ by Nilupa Yasmin and Arrow Vale RSA Academy
  • Arrow Vale RSA Academy – ‘Depths of Our History’ by Rudy Loewe with Holyhead School students
  • Sutton Park Primary RSA Academy – ‘Silhouettes of Sound’ by Laurie Ramsell with Abbeywood First School pupils

The photos below have been taken on the artworks in their new locations in these three Touring Schools.


Having the artwork in the school started off huge discussions between staff and students.  It’s been a very positive experience all round – Teacher

In the art lessons the pupils don’t tend to have much confidence in themselves, so it was great to see the pupils getting stuck into this project without any fear. The images created made the students feel like they had a voice Teacher


As a launching piece to drive our curriculum for the entire term the artwork was great – Teacher


The space was very calming but it also created lots of energy – Teacher


The artist was amazing, it was as if she’d been here for years. This was a different way to get our voice heard – Pupil

We loved sharing how the work was made – Pupil

That whole school engagement on (the huge collaborative drawing) was awesome! – Teacher

A lot of the children hadn’t met someone from an Asian Muslim background. The artist was really good at answering the children’s questions around this. I have one child in the class who is Muslim and took a lot from the artist and saw her as a role model – Teacher

I saw (one of the ArtLab pupils) today – she was glowing and looking forward to next week… – Teacher

Photo credit: Ahsen Sayeed.

Related project: Contemporary Art Space Project Related project: Contemporary Art Space Project Resources #1 Related project: Contemporary Art Space Project Resources #2 Related project: Contemporary Art Space Project Resources #3