An art, fashion and science collaboration

Catalysing creative learning across schools

In June 2015 we launched a nine-month project with the Helen Storey Foundation called Catalytic Teaching and Learning. This project is a fashion / science collaboration exploring ways we could purify air. Opening at Ipsley CE RSA Academy, two new installations appeared in school overnight: the ‘Field of Jeans’ and ‘Limb Bud Dress’.  It created an air of intrigue for students and teachers as these unusual objects popped up unexpectedly, a perfect start to the project.

The Field of Jeans is part of Helen Storey’s Catalytic Clothing collection and the ‘Limb Bud Dress’ is from Primitive Streak, a collection representing the first 1000 hours of life. A catalyst has been washed into these clothes which help to reduce harmful car emissions affecting our health and environment. In the future simply washing our clothing could help purify the air we breathe.

The RSA schools used this inspiring concept as a catalyst for both teaching and learning differently between Summer 2015 to early 2016 during which time the ‘Field of Jeans’ and the ‘Limb Bud Dress’ toured to five of the RSA schools.  The schools considered ways to engage students and colleagues in how they might teach creatively and in a cross-curricular way to explore environmental issues, climate change and our relationship with nature, showing how innovation, design and art can help us solve problems.

Read what we learnt during Catalytic Teaching and Learning in our evaluation.


Thomas Tallis School in London hosted a workshop for the RSA schools on 12 May 2015 where teachers heard from Jon Nicholls, Director of Art, Creativity and Communications about the Thomas Tallis whole school approach to creativity. We reflected on the ‘Tallis habits for creativity‘ that Thomas Tallis have adopted and were inspired to think what might be possible and relevant in the RSA schools.

Catalytic Teaching and Learning launched on 18 June Ipsley with students and teachers participating in a creative cross-curriculum workshop led by Stephen Steinhaus from Ipsley and Whitley Academies, Helen Storey RDI and Jon Nicholls from Thomas Tallis School.

Here’s some more about the Field of Jeans and our project with Helen Storey Foundation.


Each school created their own student-led projects in response to the the Field of Jeans and Limb Bud Dress. Here is an example from Holyhead School:



Read the evaluation of Catalytic Teaching and Learning.

Prof Helen Storey MBE is a social artist/designer and became an RDI in 2014.  This project is the first time we have worked across all schools in the RSA Family of Academies with an RDI and this project forms part of a wider programme of work between the RDIs and RSA Academies.


Schools involved:

Ipsley CE RSA Academy

Arrow Vale RSA Academy

Holyhead School

RSA Academy

Whitley Academy

Project details:

Date Started 1 April 2015
Date Finished 29 February 2016
Project Funder RSA Academies