The Green Town Group Project Starts


The Green Town Group outdoor learning project started this week with a packed day of school and outdoor location visits by lead artist James Aldridge, who writes:

On Monday I visited all four participating schools, and went exploring in the two Milton Keynes Parks Trust locations we’ll be using, Howe Park Wood and Campbell Park. The two sites are so full of contrast, yet equally full of possibility.

It was brilliant to meet all the children that I’ll be working with. While visiting the four schools I showed them images of my artwork to get them thinking about what is possible – how we can use art to explore, record and interpret different places. 

The children have so much enthusiasm and loads of ideas of their own, which is great. I want them to feel real ownership of this project, and for that to happen it needs to be focused around what they themselves notice and are excited by.”

The four participating primary schools are: St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.

Here are some pictures taken during James’ visit to Howe Park Wood this week:

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And are some pictures of James’ research visit to Campbell Park:

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The Green Town Group project is supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.  For more details see website HERE.


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.”


Learning Team launches The Green Town Group artist-led outdoor learning project

MK’s green spaces. Aerial view, courtesy The Parks Trust. Photo: Steve Carey

MK’s green spaces. Aerial view, courtesy The Parks Trust. Photo: Steve Carey

This week we’re writing to Milton Keynes primary schools inviting them to be part of The Green Town Group, a pilot programme of artist-led activity designed to test new approaches to outdoor learning. Schools’ expressions of interest need to reach the gallery by the deadline of Tuesday 1 December 2015. You can read more about the programme HERE on our website.

The Green Town Project has been conceived in relation to City Club – our major artists’ commission addressing the public realm around MK Gallery in the context of our expansion.  Just to recap, City Club, is a concept framework ‘borrowed’ from an ambitious unrealised project in the original MK Masterplan (the c.1970 strategy document that informed the design and development of Milton Keynes). We’ve commissioned artists Nils Norman and Gareth Jones to revisit the City Club vision to bring to life a proposal for a new type of social space for Milton Keynes.  Norman and Jones will be sharing the results of their initial researches in a presentation at MK Gallery on 10 December 2015.

City Club will comprise three main elements; a garden, piazza and playground.  These elements, and their associated links (landscape, place-making, outdoor learning, gardening, environment, public art, architecture and play), inform our artistic and learning programmes between now and reopening MK Gallery in 2017.

The Green Town Group project addresses the proposed garden element of City Club and the historical positioning of green spaces within Milton Keynes.   Externally perceived as a town designed for the car and indoor artificial ‘experiences’, Green Town Group will focus on the many green spaces and pockets of woodland around Milton Keynes, supporting children and families to respond to, and engage with, their local natural environments.  By exploring the relevance of art and nature to their everyday lives the programme will, in turn, act as consultation for the development of a centralised green space as part of the City Club vision, and inform and underpin a new long-term MK Gallery Learning Strategy, including a focus on learning outdoors.