Next Generation – Schools’ Day

Arriving early Friday morning SEVEN set up our creative space in anticipation of the 4000+ school children who were expected to attend the Next Generation schools’ day at Chalkwell Park. The event is held each year, the day before the Village Green festival organised by Metal Southend and invites local school children to get involved in the arts – from drawing and painting to singing and performing on one of the festival stages.

We were offering drop-in sessions for the children and we invited them to either spend time: free-doodling on a continuous roll of paper; creating mandalas from magazines; or creating gift tag art.

It was a very busy morning with a constant flow of groups of children (and teachers) getting stuck in and enjoying their creative freedom.

‘Bling’ was a very common theme among the youngsters, who sought out any form of shiny jewels…

And by the end of the day our continuous roll of paper had been filled with some inspiring creative doodles…

During one of our workshops a teacher commented on how surprised she was to see one pupil sitting still for 20 minutes, whereas she would normally be very disruptive in the classroom. The slow, meditative process of creating something by hand can give the feeling of being ‘lost in the moment’, which in a time when we are surrounded by information 24/7 can be a welcome break.

It was very clear to see the value of creativity on the day and how much the children enjoyed it. At a time when the number of creative subjects being taught in schools has been systematically cut, the work that Metal does in the local community is essential.

Happiness mandala workshop

happiness-mandalas

I belong to a local Meetup group that supports small businesses and self-employed people. We meet on a regular basis and its a great opportunity to share ideas or to get advice from like-minded people.

Having been inspired by a couple of recent courses I’d attended I thought I would try running my own creative workshop at one of the Meetup sessions.

mandala-group4

The task I set the group was to make their own  mandala that would represent happiness to them. The word mandala can be translated to mean ‘circle’ and it has been used for centuries as a meditation tool. I chose the theme of happiness as we can sometimes forget to be happy and yet it has many benefits which can lead us to be more productive and effective in our lives.

Using magazines, I asked the group to quickly pick images that they liked, it was important that they used their gut instinct, therefore not allowing themselves to think or question their choice.  Once they had a few images they glued them onto their plate, starting in the centre and working outwards, overlapping the edges. The edges were then trimmed to make the mandala. These are some of their lovely creations:

mandala-2

Having created their own piece of happiness I suggested they take their mandalas and put them somewhere where they would see them everyday as a gentle reminder to be happy.