Neighbourhood Projects: How We Work with Local Schools

We must begin this post with an enthusiastic statement, namely, that the Education Service enjoys a privileged position within the Museu Picasso. Privileged because the institution has a strong commitment to the educational mission that should be an intrinsic part of every museum; because the Education Service, now in its fourth year, has very visibly consolidated its role and enjoys a really positive response from educators and students; because we have new facilities that allow us to work even better with even bigger groups; because we are continuing to grow and take on new challenges, such as teacher training, activities for summer camps and collaborations with municipal educational projects, and because we have managed to make working with the schools in our district a central strand of what we do.

This work with local schools (both primary and secondary) is structured in what we call ‘Neighbourhood Projects’, which have a series of objectives: first, taking Picasso as our starting point, we aim to work with artistic creation in a transversal way; at the same time, we invite the schools to do this over a whole term, involving a number of meetings between museum educators, students and teachers; finally, because we feel it is essential that this process have a contemporary edge, it also actively incorporates a working artist. One very important point here is that the focus is not so much on the final result as the working process required to get there.

We are currently developing two projects, ‘Variations on a Theme’ and ‘Own Space’, which we have already worked on with several schools. The first was our pilot project and is now fully consolidated. Based on the visit to the Las Meninas series in the Museum, ‘Variations on a Theme’ uses photography to explore the concept of seriation in artistic creation. Guided by the suggestions of photographer Lídia Carbonell, students put together a series of photographs about their everyday lives. Based on this series, the student has to produce a collage and a photomontage, which work as a synthesis of the most important concepts of the series.

Variations on a Theme’ by Tomàs Ferreira Crubellati

This year we have launched a new project, ‘Own Space’. Created in conjunction with the association Experimentem amb l’Art (‘Let’s Experiment with Art’) and the artist Iñaki Álvarez, this initiative sets out to reflect on the nature of space, both personal and shared, in order to work with who we are and how we show ourselves to others. The project starts off with the adolescent Picasso, who spent his formative teenage years in Barcelona. After watching a video by Iñaki, the students create a work of their own in the form of a video, in which they look at and think about their bedroom and the things that make it their own. Then all of the students together have to transform the shared space of the classroom into a flexible and plural environment. In other words, they start from the individual creation and work towards a group creation.

Variations on a Theme’ by Sofia Jones Mosterin

After each project we carry out an internal assessment, reviewing the proposal and the processes in order to refine and improve the project. We also ask for an assessment from each participant — whether they are teachers or students, everyone’s opinions help us learn more about our projects! We would like to share with you the feedback we received from Maria Pagès, a secondary school teacher at the IES Pau Claris, in which she included some comments from her students:

‘Although the Own Space project was initially meant to be worked on in terms of the visual arts, at the IES Pau Claris we ended up deciding to centre the core area on?? the tutorial class and from there bring in the other subjects, to the extent that the respective timetables allowed.

‘So, starting with a quote from Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys — “I had a room, and I thought of it as if my kingdom” — which kicked off the debate in the tutorial class, and ending with a discussion in the English class of the song “In My Room” by the same group, we “prepared the ground” for the sessions with the specialists, which were a total success.

Project ‘Own Space’ from IES Pau Claris and CEIP Castella

‘It has to be said that privacy, the need for a place where you can find your own identity and have a chance to share it with classmates and friends without losing it, is a crucial factor in adolescence and, for that reason, a powerful magnet that really motivated the participants. As a result, we lived the experience with enthusiasm but also with a bit of uncertainty, with shyness and with boldness, as both individuals and a group at once.

‘The Own Space project has been, for all of us, an opportunity to go beyond boundaries of the day-to-day, an injection of optimism, creativity and communication, confirmation that we can do much more than we think we can… if we make the effort!’

Maria Pagès
IES Pau Claris secondary school

And the students’ opinions:

I’ve learned…
That my personal space can be wherever I am
That I can do many more things than I thought I could
That when I’m calm and relaxed I can do loads of things
To work in a group and get on with other people

I’ve realized that…
Art is a fantastic thing
When you work in a group you learn things from others and you also put a part of yourself into it
Working in groups can be hard at times
When people are willing to work, things turn out well
A person’s private space perfectly identifies who they are

I didn’t like…
The subject — it was too personal for me
Not being able to choose my working group
Being told off for unsuitable behaviour
People interrupting the activity

From now on…
I’ll work better in a group
I have a better opinion of some of my classmates than before; I feel I know them better
I’ll be ready for other activities like this
We should work in groups more, because I’ve seen how well they work

I want to say that…
I’ve learned to understand what my classmates do
I’d like to do more projects like this because we learn a lot
I enjoyed working with people I don’t usually work with
It was an educational activity, as well as being fun
I’d like to do it again

Maria Alcover & Anna Guarro
Education & Public Programmes

1 Comment
  • Montse
    June 3, 2011

    És fantàstic, poguer fer arribar als estudiants,l´amor per la pintura, per l´art del nostre estimat Picasso¡¡

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