The Green Town Group – project artist and primary schools announced

Artist James Aldridge

Artist James Aldridge

Today our Learning Team has announced the artist and schools they’ve selected to participate in The Green Town Group, our pilot programme of artist-led activity designed to test new approaches to outdoor learning, supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.

Wiltshire-based visual artist James Aldridge will be heading up the project over the coming six months. His practice combines sensory interaction – such as walking, collecting and making – with research into ecology and history. Selected from an open call for artists, James has experience of heritage, arts and environmental organisations, and has worked with people ranging from pre-school children through to doctoral students.

James will be working with four MK primary schools: St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.

The project will involve around 130 Key Stage 1 pupils from across the four schools each taking part in three outdoor learning sessions in MK Parks Trust sites between January and July this year. Intended to enable schools to develop skills in outdoor learning in relation to contemporary arts practice, the sessions will also inspire and support teachers with cross-curricular links.

Each school’s participation in the project will culminate in a whole school celebration, involving hundreds more pupils. All children taking part in the programme will also have the chance to achieve their Arts Award Discover certificate, a scheme accredited by Trinity College London.

James says of his appointment: “I’m excited to be working with MK Gallery this year, using my practice to help bring the outdoors alive for local people. I’m looking forward to exploring the green spaces of Milton Keynes with school children and families, digging into its past together and examining its role as a home for wildlife as well as people.”

Ian Fraser, Assistant Head Teacher at Holne Chase Primary School said: “We are really looking forward to taking part in the project, especially for how it will help our children to appreciate seasonal changes in the natural environment around them, and for the skills that they will learn from an artist. This will be a springboard for more outdoor learning opportunities throughout Holne Chase, both this year and in the future.”

Bethany Mitchell, MK Gallery’s Childhood Learning Coordinator added: “We are delighted with our chosen artist and schools. As lead artist, James will devise creative activities that will touch on many areas of the national curriculum and allow resultant learning to be fed back into the classroom. And at the end of The Green Town Group project we’ll use what we’ve learnt with pupils and teachers to help shape MK Gallery’s future learning programme.”

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FF&E Meeting

Some of the attendees at the 11 Jan 2016 FF&E Planning Meeting

Team members concentrating on FF&E matters yesterday

Yesterday we had an extended meeting lasting most of the day to consider the procurement of FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) for the expanded gallery. This involved relevant staff and some of our professional team members (including 6a architects, and acoustic specialists Charcoal Blue in detailed discussion about the “nuts and bolts” of running the new gallery. The areas under consideration were our front of house facilities, the new Shop and Café, the multi-purpose auditorium, the learning space, and last but not least, the galleries themselves.

Kate Chadwick, Head of Operations at MK Gallery, said: “It’s really exciting to now be getting stuck into the detailed planning required to deliver this wonderful new facility for MK. We’ve been working with a retail consultant for advice on our Shop, but it would be lovely to hear from our audiences about their expectations in terms of what it should provide, or which other gallery shops they think we should consider as excellent models. Anyone with thoughts is welcome to email me via kchadwick@mkgallery.org

Visitor Information Centre promotes Gallery expansion with new film

Destination MK (DMK), the city’s official tourism and information provider, is to help raise awareness of MK Gallery expansion via a new short film it has produced for the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) which serves the city’s tourists and the wider community. Steven Gordon-Wilson, Chief Executive of DMK, tells us about it:

Steven Gordon-Wilson, CEO, Destination MKFrom this week onwards our new short film about MK Gallery will be visible 24-7 in the window of the VIC (facing John Lewis department store in centre:mk). It joins a show-reel of looped films promoting MK’s major attractions.

The film features MK Gallery’s Director Anthony Spira outlining the gallery’s current activities and signals the exciting range of exhibition and events that will be possible in the renovated and expanded building, serving bigger and broader audiences.

Our remit at DMK is to promote MK to a national audience, and inform them about the wealth of activities on offer when they get here. There is a great synergy between MK Gallery’s objectives and those of DMK, as the gallery is an important visitor attraction that feeds into the local economy, and has an international pull.

We can’t underestimate how important MK Gallery is to the cultural offer in MK as well as to the broader tourism piece.  The exciting expansion plans will only enhance this and we’re pleased that we can shout about it in our real shop window as well as our online one!

MK Gallery are founder members of DMK and via our Marketing Group and Board work closely with our organisation on a number of projects, including the newly opened Visitor Information Centre. 

Our marketing focus for 2016 is going to be heavily arts and culture based.  As the creative minds of the city look ahead to IF:2016, MK Gallery’s reopening in 2017, and other cultural milestones, it seems clear that we should be shouting about what a cultural hotspot MK really is.”

As well as being available in the VIC the film can also be seen online at www.destinationmiltonkeynes.co.uk.