Breaking the Mould with Gomersal Primary

23 April 2020

Natalie Walton, Learning and Outreach Manager, reports on the Arts Council Collection’s ongoing partnership with Gomersal Primary School in West Yorkshire, as part of the learning programme at our centre for sculpture at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


As part of the project, Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945, the Arts Council Collection team worked with teacher Mandy Barrett at Gomersal Primary School and the Gomersal Primary Arts Council (GAC) 2020 cohort. Gomersal’s own Arts Council was set up in 2017 with an aim to develop a pupil-led enhanced arts curriculum within the school.

The GAC is made up of 15 representatives from Years 5 and 6. Across several years, the group has worked with the Arts Council Collection to develop learning resources and test ideas. The Arts Council Collection values the ideas of these young people and felt it would be an ideal opportunity to bring them into a project that would help the team to explore key works from the Collection through new eyes.

GAC were invited to select a work of art from a shortlist of works that would be on display as part of the Breaking the Mould exhibition. The first challenge was to get everyone to agree on one artwork to talk about from a list of 10. This was not easy, students worked with ACC staff, researched artists and artworks and ranked the works in order of preference (many times). Finally the students chose Calendula's Cloak created by Jann Haworth in 1967.

Following the brief, students researched the artist and her work and developed a series of questions and observations about the work that could be recorded as part of the exhibition. What the children did not know was that teacher Mandy Barrett and Senior Curator, Natalie Rudd had been having conversations with the artist (who lives and works in America), and that Jann Haworth would be taking those questions and answering them on camera in her studio in America.


To bring all this together ACC staff invited GAC students to see Calendula's Cloak in a special private viewing before the exhibition was to open. Jaws dropped and an audible gasp of delight was heard in the viewing room as the students were surprised at the size, colour and form of the sculpture before them.


The short film below captures the project and reflects the hard work Gomersal Primary School Arts Council have put into researching the work, their personal interpretations, the insightful questions they had for the artist and Jann Haworth’s generous responses.

Special thanks to artist Jann Haworth for her generous contribution to this project.

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Breaking the Mould: Sculptures by Women since 1945 will be the first publication to focus on women sculptors in Britain from the post-war period to today.
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