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BALTIC Schools Murals Project 2021

BALTIC has brought together artists, school children and businesses to create art murals that have been unveiled in five Gateshead schools this autumn.

Gateshead secondary schools have felt the impact of Covid-19 on their school environment across two academic years. Remote learning and year group bubbles have divided the schools with most classes unable to move freely around their buildings to receive science lab or art room-based lessons.

BALTIC worked with Whickham School, Kingsmeadow Community School, Cedars Academy, Heworth Grange, Cardinal Hume Catholic School to bring about a moment of togetherness where pupils collaborated with professional artists Zoe Allen, Cath Campbell, Theresa Easton, Mat Fleming and Megan Randall, commissioned by BALTIC. Through five skills-based workshops per school, pupils and artists have created five completely unique artworks specifically developed and installed in communal spaces to create a lasting legacy in each school.

Learning new skills, gaining experience of working with practicing artists and being together in a shared space, were at the heart of this valuable and crucial project which has ignited pride, creativity and collective ownership of the final artwork by the pupils and schools.

The workshops and final art murals were made possible with the generous support of five national and international businesses with North East headquarters. BALTIC partnered with Cintra HR, NBS, North P&I Club, Ryder Architecture and Ward Hadaway to bring together the five schools with the artists.

Newcastle-based North P&I Club, a leading global marine insurer with over 160 years of history in the industry, sponsorsed the project, enabling Cedars Academy to work with artist Megan Randall.

Artist Megan Randall:
I enjoy working with SEND schools and this exciting project was a chance to bring aspects of my practice into the BALTIC School Murals project. Cedars Academy asked to try and combine making an installation with developing skills for their students that they could use in their own enterprise business. I have facilitated approximately 80% less activities during the pandemic, with more online which doesn't really suit my ceramic practice. It's a thrill to see in this project the pupil’s work on display and to see the pride, confidence and joy that they put into making this art mural.

Cedars Academy teacher Alan Finn:
During the pandemic, our pupils weren’t able to take part in arts activities due to room restrictions and sharing/using of equipment and resources. This project helped to bring value to art in our school having BALTIC facilitate space to be creative in and provide an experienced artist to work with our pupils.

The pupils gained a lot from working in a different environment than a school classroom. BALTIC’s learning studio had a calming effect on the group. They were able to use the experience to work towards gaining an Arts Award Silver which may not have been achievable if it wasn't for the experience working with an artist.They gained new art skills in ceramics, printing, painting and guerrilla arts, and a sense of worth and wellbeing by taking part.

Paul Jennings, Chief Executive, North P&I Club:
Through partnering with our close neighbours on the Tyne, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, we are pleased to be involved with the Schools Mural project and support the children at Cedars Academy in Gateshead. We hope that through working alongside their artist, they have had the opportunity to express themselves creatively in what has been a challenging time for everyone recently.

As the murals neared completion in schools, a celebratory event at BALTIC took place on 16 November, bringing the pupils, artists and teachers into the gallery together with the supporting businesses. At the event the pupils got to meet the other schools and share their experiences of working with the artist on the murals. Images of Cardinal Hume Catholic School art mural will be coming soon to this page.

Look out for a new short film about the project on this page in January 2022.

Find out about how your business might be involved in similar projects

Find out about BALTIC's Schools programme

Thanks to our project sponsors