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Our Primary School Summer Workshops 2022!

Journeys – New adventures and bold steps

Summer Workshops 2022

Our theme for this year was journeys. Small journeys for individuals and giant leaps for human kind! Our student guests were all heading out on the next step of their respective academic journey. Year 6 participants walked to the Fine Art department with their teachers and support staff, eager to explore, question, reflect and to tell a creative story about their next adventure.

Co-researchers from our university community describe what the school students experienced during the workshops and they also reflect on what the sessions meant to them as artists.

Co-researcher and recent Fine Art graduate Sophie Baldwin:

Reading University’s ArtLab workshops are extremely engaging and effective in Widening Participation and outreach in Reading’s local community, particularly in engaging primary school children with art in an exciting and interactive workshop.

The primary school children arrived early in the morning at 9, after having walked half an hour on one of the sunniest days of the year. Despite this, the workshop encouraged creativity and engagement through the use of exciting 3D scan technology and experimentation with clay, and the children were immediately enthralled. This experience was entirely new to some of the children, who had never experienced or had the opportunity to work with such materials. ArtLab was able to provide an exciting and educational experience throughout.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lao Tzu

ArtLab prompted the idea of creating an object that explores the children’s journey through primary school, enabling the children a chance to sketch out and map together in a non-classroom environment. As such, the children were able to explore creative outlets in a new environment and work together to exchange ideas and experiences. ArtLab’s collaborative approach allowed the children to experience a shared sense of identity, as the children would readily volunteer and discuss amongst themselves their favourite memories and experiences of primary school.

The children were especially excited to work with the clay, as doing so encouraged a creative, hands-on learning experience (and also allowed them to get a little bit messy!) With the ArtLab team’s encouragement, the children were able to physically explore the materiality of clay, an experience some hadn’t had before. The children were eager to tell me about their favourite subjects and experiences at school.

One boy carefully constructed a cleverly-made Porsche out of clay, explaining that his art lessons in school had encouraged him to want to design cars in the future.

His engagement and willingness to learn allowed the ArtLab team to encourage his physical talent with the clay and create an engaging, reflective learning experience. Others in the group created miniature figures of their friends, explaining that their friendships were the most important aspect of their primary school journey. Some children even made books of their favourite school subjects. Each child made something they were truly passionate about and had the opportunity to learn and experience new art media.

All of the children were intrigued by the 3D scanning aspect of the workshop. After creating their clay objects, the children were shown how to create a 3D scan of their work. ArtLab’s equipment was simple to use and allowed the children to learn directly how to create their scans. This introduction to the digital aspect of the workshop allowed the children to engage independently and help others in their group.

Many were amused by the ways in which the 3D scan could be manipulated and the day ended with many morphed and warped objects. This freedom to manipulate their work further allowed the children to experiment with technology many wouldn’t have access to. This access to technology is invaluable to children in Reading’s community, and encourages widening participation. Similarly, through introducing this technology to the children, they are perhaps more likely to explore other related art and digital work in the future.

This workshop was such a lovely experience for me to participate in, and most importantly it was engaging and a wonderful opportunity for the children. At the end of the day, the children were pleased with their creations, and the visiting staff said they also had a great time watching their children’s engagement. In attending the workshop, the children were introduced to a combination of both art and digital scanning that allowed for access to technology that many children wouldn’t have had before.

Fine Art student Millie Dalvand explores her first experience working with ArtLab:

This was my first experience working with ArtLab as well as working with a technological software that scanned 3D objects and reimagined them in physical space. I had also never dealt with a whole class of school children so it was a bit daunting how everything would pan out, particularly after pausing these kinds of activities due to covid.

The day was split into two sessions between two different groups, where they were prompted to create an object that was something they liked and wanted to carry forward onto secondary school, anything from favourite classes at school to clubs, hobbies, and friendships. I remember the first group were reflective on recent school events, with a number of kids making things inspired by their school play of Robin Hood and their roles within the play, as well as their recent school trip to Wales led to varied renditions of sheriff badges and coaches, whilst the second school group created objects that were inspired by concepts such as friendship or their interests, producing some really creative sculptures.

After working with clay to make small objects, we guided the kids in the process of scanning. As with many things, we had quite some technological issues in the morning that set us back quite a bit with timings but had no effect on the children, as they were chatting away and coming up with new ideas as time went along.

After struggling to scan, we showed the kids ways to manipulate their scanned objects with tools within the software, producing abstract shapes or correcting any issues with their clay or incorrect scanning. With the extra time, the kids began to experiment with objects around them like bananas and packets of crisps they had bought and altered the shapes and sizes of their everyday objects!

After experimenting with the shapes of their scanned objects, we showed them their object in augmented reality and how their object looked in the workshop space that we were in. I remember showing a group of kids how things looked for the first time with a few kids around me looking at the tablet and being so amazed at seeing their objects as big as their friends looking like something like a volcano was walking around the room.

Making our objects

The whole workshop was quite a new yet familiar experience, with tablets and augmented reality in gaming being commonly used from a young age, I think everyone took to the workshop activities so quickly and creatively, I was surprised how great the day went despite some bumps along the way.

Fine Art graduate and co-researcher Eleanor Perriam:

We welcomed three groups of 30 primary school children into the university art department. As they were moving from year 6 into the first year of their senior schools, we encouraged them to create something that they cherished and valued from their time at their primary school.


ArtLab has been a prominent presence throughout my time as an art student, aiding my practical and material process through alternative and innovative methods, inciting and inspiring research and new ways of making and thinking, and generally opening my eyes to the endless potential that technology holds within the arts, now more than ever. These are also the realisations that I watched others come to through the external workshops. Clay was an engaging, traditional material to tackle emotional subject matter, particularly for those not used to thinking in an overly artistic way. Through the introduction of Qlone and technology, the presence of the artwork mutated from a physical, ornamental object to an exciting, interactive presence that could be interacted with virtually.

They thrived with using a sculptural material such as clay and were engaged in the activity due to its semblance to play. Introducing the children to ‘Qlone’ was very interesting as they are used to technology being second nature to them, so showing them something on an iPad which they have not seen before or didn’t know it could do was very fascinating to them. They took to the app’s capabilities immediately, because of the apps proximity to VR within video games. The children ended their day very excited to have done the activity and a final moment to reflect on their last year at primary school.

Qlone capture ‘heart’

Co-researcher and Fine Art graduate Charlotte Thomas discusses her experience of the sessions:

Working with ArtLab enabled me to take part in a workshop where we introduced the scanning technology to a group of thirty school children transitioning from primary school to secondary school. The workshop enabled them to delve into their intuitive process of discovery and play regarding their clay sculpting and their interpretations of the digital scans of the sculptures they had created. Not only did they find the workshops exciting and fun, but it also allowed them to take a moment to reflect on their time as primary school children and communicate their gratitude towards their favourite moments at school.

Fine Art graduate Mikey Crookes reflects on the workshops and how important interactions like these are for young people:

After the introductory talks by Tina, we were assigned our groups and promptly escorted them to the workshop space. The process was first explained to the groups by Tina and Jon in their respective workspaces. The workshop consisted of writing down something they would like to take from their experience of primary school, sculpting whatever they choose with clay, and scanning it in Qlone to create a digital model. After a successful morning workshop Tina noticed the positive response that the boys had to a male role model as a result of my leadership of the group. With this in mind, I was set the task of running a group of eight boys for the afternoon workshop.

A large portion of the boys showed an interest in football and the other sports from the PE lessons. With my knowledge of football and basketball, I was able to relate to and engage them in the creative process by discussing their core interests. Once the group where creating clay sculptures of their interests in the form of shirts of their favourite players, the badge of their school team and the pitch, It was clear that the workshop was going to be a success as all eight students were actively engaged in the sculpting and excited at the prospect of bringing their ideas into the digital space.

Qlone capture football shirt sculpture

One child, in particular, wanted to create the logo of his favourite football boot brand, the simplicity of the Nike ‘swoosh’ was an achievable shape for an inexperienced sculptor, as well as being able to be scaled big enough to scan clearly and successfully. The aim when running a workshop with children is to pass on information and share knowledge and skills. This presented the opportunity for me to explain to the young boy the story of Carolyn Davidson, and how as a student she designed the logo for Nike and sold it to them for only 35 USD. The child’s curiosity peaked, and he asked me more questions about the story and logo design, extending his knowledge further.

Qlone capture ‘Swoosh’

Treating the group equally is an essential part of mentoring and leading young people. With this in mind, there were a couple of children who wanted to make each other names in homage to their friendship, we discussed what it is about each other that makes them such important friends and an element of each school that they would like to carry through with them, this conversation led to some developments in their clay designs like using elements of the games they like to play together and food they like to eat.

This exercise in thinking about what was important to them about their time in primary school, combined with what was to many of the children the new experience of sculpting with clay and tools provided a chance to reflect on what was important to them, whilst learning new practical skills. The next step in the workshop was to scan the sculptures using Qlone to bring their creations into the world of Augmented reality, developing their skills in the realm of digital art. This is the stage in the process that is new to all the children and something that many of them were at first unsure about, but once they got a chance to be hands-on with the technology and its possibilities as a creative tool. They were delighted when they started bringing their creations to life.

The afternoon workshop highlighted how well young boys respond to a male role model, especially one that is young enough for them to be able to relate to and not seen as too much of an authoritative figure. The workshop process of taking an idea writing it down translating it into a physical sculpture and then scanning and manipulating it within the Qlone was highly successful. This engagement with traditional sculpture methods and modern technology. Is perfect for the ten to eleven age range, as it takes technology that children are now so comfortable with as a form of entertainment and opens the doors for technology to be used as a creative tool. Being in the University setting is a key aspect of the workshop as it gives the children a glimpse of higher education setting. In addition to this, Tina did her best to encourage dialogue with the group about going to university. In just a few hours a workshop like this can spark a child’s imagination, potentially putting them on a path toward design and creative arts.

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