JEDBURGH pupils are among the first in Scotland to work with an artist in residence in a pioneering community, eduction and history project.
The scheme was piloted at Stirling Castle, where it proved so successful that Education Scotland and Historic Scotland decided to extend it and invited Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to get involved.
Now SBC’s community learning and development section and Youth Borders are working with three artists in residence – Borders glass expert Rachel O’Dell, Jedburgh artist and workshop tutor Amy Neville and internationally renowned Lilliesleaf glass atrist and teacher Inge Panneels – around the region.
About 20 third-year students at Jedburgh Grammar School are three weeks into their project in fused glass.
And a further 30 young people at the CO2 youth cafe, also in Jedburgh, Rowlands Dry Bar in Selkirk, and other youth groups are also creating glass work based on the theme of community.
The Selkirk pupils’ art teacher Lucy Chalmers said: “The students have really enjoyed it. It’s been a short project and they have very instantly seen really bright and eyecatching results.”
The classes had already been working on Jedburgh posters when the artist allocated to the school, Mrs O’Dell, asked the students to come up with iconic images of the town.
The art and craft pupils are producing small tiles of images in glass and their work, along with the other Borders participants, will be exhibited in Jedburgh Abbey later this spring and at a national seminar in Stirling next month.
Mrs Chalmers said: “It’s been fantastic. The students have had a chance to use materials they wouldn’t otherwise have got to use and work with a teacher who has a specialism we don’t have. It’s the process of doing something different and crafty that they have really enjoyed.”
Overall project manager, artist and freelance cultural planner, Kathleen O’Neill explained: “We focused on glass because of the lost (stained glass) windows in the abbey which traditionally tell stories of communities. You look at the abbey and, to me, it screams ‘imagine how it was with the windows’. It’s been an excellent project.”
And she is hopeful the region could see more artistic endeavours in the future: “Historic Scotland have had partnerships with Education Scotland before, but never for community learning. They are having national seminar at Stirling University next month to see all the projects and see what the potential is for future development.”
The £28,000 needed for the work in the Borders – and another initiative in Perthshire – came from Education Scotland (£22,000), with the rest from Historic Scotland and CABN (Creative Arts Business Network), part of the South of Scotland Creative Enterprise Initiative, who paid for Mrs O’Dell’s and Ms Neville’s contribution.
Jedburgh Grammar School’s acting head teacher Kevin Ryalls said the project has benefited his students: “I was really impressed by it and the way that everyone worked so well together to produce work of real quality. It has offered the pupils a unique experience with the opportunity to learn new skills. Importantly, it creates a real connection with both our school and town.”
S3 pupil Connor Millar said: “It’s different and enjoyable. My design was based on the handba’ which is significant and unique to Jedburgh. I am actually really proud of it.”
Fellow S3 student Callum Dickson said: “I really enjoyed the chance to learn new things about working with glass. I chose to create a piece of glass with an antlers and countryside design, representing the Jedburgh Deer Park; something different from rugby and handba’.”
Mrs O’Dell said: “It’s been great working with the school and the children have loved it.”