One of the highlights for the PMSA in 2017 was the launch on 25 November of PMSA Education at the Gibberd Gallery in Harlow, Essex. We could not have found a more appropriate place to introduce our new education programme than Harlow. One only needs to look back at Historic England’s groundbreaking 2015 exhibition ‘Out There: Our Post-War Public Art’ at Somerset House in London to see why. Harlow took centre stage, as an important example of one of the New Towns, which sprang up in the wave of utopian post-war reconstruction. Conceived by the architect and town-planner, Sir Frederick Gibberd, Harlow became a template for urban town planning, and public art was an integral part of his vision. Soon the Harlow Art Trust was set up, securing major works by Auguste Rodin, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Dame Elisabeth Frink, which still enliven the town today and give its distinctive identity and epithet ‘Harlow Sculpture Town’.
Recently, Harlow Art Trust, based at the Gibberd Gallery, has embarked on an exciting new artist in residence programme with the Royal College of Art, known as STAIR, and joining them from the outset, PMSA Education is now the annual sponsor and partner of the educational programme attached to this residency.
The first STAIR resident, Finn Thomson, led the PMSA’s inaugural collaboration with a lively children’s workshop, ‘Harlow Hopscotch’. Developed along the lines of the playground game, Finn designed an inspiring programme for Year 5 from St. Mary’s School, Stansted Mountfitchet. The theme of ‘Hopscotch’ proved a fresh and immediate way to engage the children with ideas of public space and points of location, encouraging them to look carefully and then respond to Harlow’s iconic public sculpture.
The children’s spirited and imaginative art works were then displayed at the Gibberd Gallery in their ‘Hidden Gallery’ for children and prizes were awarded. Read the children’s comments about public sculpture and the full interview with Gibberd Gallery curator, Corrina Dunlea, and STAIR resident, Finn Thomson, SOON!