Art School - For Sunderland Culture November 2018 - January 2019

A pop up art school for residents in three care homes, care staff, volunteers and the families and friends of residents.

Art School brought the spirit of the art foundation year to the residents of Washington Lodge, Washington Manor and St George’s, their carers, families, friends, and social care students from Sunderland and Newcastle Colleges.


Art School used objects, photographs and other artefacts supplied by Sunderland Museums, as the material to inspire artwork.  Each week we sat around a table, talking in pairs and small groups, before we started a group conversation inspired by objects, photographs or other materials on the table.  Items and images from the past, inspiring artwork in the present.  Participants who still had good cognition and communication skills were  encouraged to share their memories and ask questions, whilst the thoughts and feelings of people with dementia or other disabilities, were listened to with sensitivity, recognising that these residents sometimes expressed their feelings about the objects and photographs in non-traditional, or unexpected ways.  As the artist leading the workshops, I ensured that everyone’s contribution was valued, and that everyone got a chance to participate in subsequent creative activities.


Art School provided participants with opportunities to try out a variety of artforms and use a wide range of materials.  These included:

  • Spatter painting/printing

  • Sculpture making using moulds and plaster

  • Textile projects that respond to different levels of skill

  • Simple drawing and painting activities

  • Decoupage and other paper activities 

Art School followed 8 themes:

  • Glass and light, inspired by Sunderland’s glass manufacturing heritage

  • The Sixties

  • Shopping, with a particular emphasis on the opening of the Galleries Shopping Centre

  • Christmas and Divali

  • Beaches and Sea, with a focus on Sunderland’s coastline

  • Selfies past and present

  • Toys and Games

  • Celebrations and Welcomes, inspired by the exhibition ‘Life in Colour’ by Ranbir Kaur