23rd May 2018
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A breath of fresh air

Among all the seriousness with which art is undertaken in the adult world, together with all that pretence and high-mindedness, it’s a breath of fresh air to see children in their world of art having real fun. Jack Deyell is a young artist, a really young artist, who definitely has had fun. He has created a garden monster from paper, felt, yarn and wiggly eyes and the result is brilliant.

Along with his fellow pupils at Bell’s Brae ASN Department these young artists have transformed the walls of their school with their artwork. In another major exhibition organised by this department we see again a wide mix of techniques and media which the children are offered. And rarely is this special activity; it’s the result of class work and individual responses to activities.

There’s a lot of exploration going on. Children learn so much by being offered a range of materials to play with, to explore and find out what it will and won’t do. Craig Tilston and Reece Laurenson have used paint on paper and fabric to create colourful, expressive pieces whilst Anthony Nisbet has used what comes naturally – his hands and fingers. I loved Helen Tulloch’s Explosion which says it all! There’s a print by Alexander Cluness in which he’s experimented with different colours of paper.

From some of the very young there are spontaneous pieces including Pawel Sopola’s Brother Lukasz, Dean Law’s Circles, Thomas Harper’s Crayfish and Kaylee Ann Best’s collage sheep. Millie Polson’s Two Eyes Alien has been painted and folded to create new shapes.

Making felt has been an activity which the children had fun exploring and there’s lovely examples of the results by Caira Sinclair (Cheeky Monkey), Ryan Brannan (Tartan), Caitlin Chapman (Parachute), and Cory Williamson (Coloured Felt). Dylan McDougall’s Galley Head is full of rich fiery colour.

Drawing is another natural activity whether as imagination, expression or observation of real objects and in that latter category there’s a fine drawing by Louise Jackson of a nautilus shell, sensitively observed. Justin Johnson’s Arctic Tern in chalk is full of energy and “birdiness”. And while we’re on the subject Tom Blackburn, Alex Slater, and Struan Haswell have all made colourful images of birds. Brandon Johnson’s Raleigh is a closely observed drawing of a bike.

More observations of flowers bring out sensitive drawings by Ellie Lynch, Alex Slater and Roan Polson while Angus Morrison’s Flowers in a vase works to great effect on black paper. Jacob Robertson and James Sim both use watercolour effects while Hunter Arthur has made an imaginative fishing boat.

Collage is always fun – the combination of shapes, colours and textures together with drawn or painted elements is a basic technique in primary art and always imaginative. This is true of Adelle Hawes’ Rainbow Fish and Caitlin Chapman’s Sparkling Fish with its many sequins. Dean Hughson’s silhouette boat against a sunset sky is very dramatic. There’s a lot of work in Alex Slater’s Lighthouse with elements of tissue collage, paper, paint, pencil and felt pen.

If joining lots of twiddly bits and pieces together is your way of making art then you’ll really love Helen Tulloch’s Twiddly Bits – a budding jeweller there I think.

Altogether a wonderful show and more importantly it demonstrates how strong the commitment to visual arts is at the Bell’s Brae ASN department.

What makes it special though is the trouble with which the staff have taken to make this as professional without losing the spontaneity which is at the heart of child art.

The work has all been simply but effectively framed, labelled and catalogued with artists’ biographies. And at the opening last Monday most of it was sold. There are lessons there for grown-up artists as well!

Peter Davis