May 2022: Assemble + Schools of Tomorrow – The Place We Imagine

Jubilee L.E.A.D Academy Year 5 children interacting with the co-operative play spaces they have created.
Photo: Sam Kirby

As part of my role as an Associate Artist at Nottingham Contemporary, I am one of five artists delivering the gallery’s Schools of Tomorrow programme. I have been artist-in-residence at Jubilee L.E.A.D. Academy in Bilborough, Nottingham since January 2020. I work closely with the same two classes and their teachers, and have done so since they were Year 3; they are now Year 5.

Schools of Tomorrow is a 4-year learning and research programme funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which places artists in residence at eight Nottingham schools. Together, artists and teachers develop approaches to supporting creativity in and beyond the classroom through a process of action-led enquiry.

I am very excited to be part of Schools of Tomorrow’s collaboration with the Turner Prize winning architect and design collective Assemble for the exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary The Place We Imagine . Assemble have created three large-scale play sculptures that fill the galleries, two based on a drawing from 1968 by the Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi and one developed in dialogue with children from three of the Schools of Tomorrow schools, including Jubilee L.E.A.D. Academy. These are not ‘please do not touch’ artworks, they are to be interacted with in whatever way gallery visitors, especially children, decide. At a moment when most playgrounds appear to be designed for the kinds of play that adults like to see children do, this project challenges the confines of the gallery space and its uses. It opens up new ways of being in the museum, for children and adults alike. The exhibition also shows moments from Schools of Tomorrow activities that highlight how important play is in the creative and learning process.