A new schools’ learning resource for Hadrian’s Wall, developed as part of the Wall Face project, is now available online (www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/learning).
It features Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, Birdoswald Roman Fort, the Roman Army Museum at Greenhead, Roman Vindolanda, Housesteads Roman Fort, Chesters Roman Fort, Corbridge Roman Town, the Great North Museum in Newcastle, Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend and Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields.
Work on the learning resource began last year alongside the Wall Face exhibition across these 11 Roman attractions. The exhibition featured portraits from the National Portrait Gallery of pioneering archaeologists and antiquarians who recorded, protected and revealed the stories of the Hadrian’s Wall frontier.
The £124,000 Wall Face project was organised jointly through a partnership of heritage organisations across the Wall – Senhouse Museum Trust, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, English Heritage, Vindolanda Trust, National Trust, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and the Hadrian’s Wall Trust. It has been funded through Arts Council England’s Renaissance strategic support programme.
Wall Face education consultant Yvonne Conchie said: “There are so many learning opportunities for all ages which can be based around Hadrian’s Wall.
“Romans are the usual subject studied on Hadrian’s Wall by schools, but we want to encourage teachers to remember that learning right across the curriculum and age ranges can be illuminated by Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site.
“For the Wall Face resource we’ve focussed on the Key Stage 3 (ages 11-14) art and design curriculum. We’ve been lucky to work with Haydon Bridge High School which holds a Gold Arts Mark plaque – the highest award a school can earn from the Arts Council – to help us with development and testing since September.
“Children are encouraged to consider their own identity and legacy by studying the people in the National Portrait Gallery Wall Face images and how they influenced our heritage and demonstrated the need for conservation.”
The resource is designed to be used in the classroom and encourages visits to the Roman sites. It can be adapted to suit different age ranges.
Topics look at understanding the meanings and legacies people have sought to convey through choosing what to include in their portraits. This uses images of the archaeologists and antiquarians featured in the Wall Face exhibition and Roman objects such as clay and stone sculptures, paintings, tombstones and coins. Topics also help the children critically evaluate the work of modern, historic and ancient artists, and use their learning to create modern-day portraits of their own.
Anna Coulson, creativity lead teacher at Haydon Bridge High School in Northumberland is pleased to be collaborating with Wall Face. She said: “It’s fabulous to have a funded project that gives our students opportunities and experiences that they would not normally have.
“It reinforces our practice – to bring in artists, take our students out of the classrooms, and embed unusual creative experiences – giving the students inspiration to blossom and flourish. It also helps us to maintain our longstanding Arts Mark Gold status, which recognises the outstanding provision of the arts and creativity across the whole school.”
The project has involved three different artists working with the children in school.
Isla Jones is an award winning young photographer and current pupil at the school. She is teaching digital portraiture techniques and using her teaching and digital recording of this project, and wall mounted artworks she has produced, for her A-Level portfolio.
Isla said: “It’s been interesting to explore the leadership side of photography, as I’ve not had that opportunity before. Sometimes when I do my own work, I don’t appreciate how much goes into it, all the different skills I need to use, but helping all these children plan their compositions, get the costumes and poses just right, is really helpful for me in evaluating my own work.”
Ruby Dale is an emerging artist and former pupil of Haydon Bridge High School. After time working in India and Tynedale, Ruby is going to study fine art at Sunderland University. She has taught the children pen and ink portraiture techniques and helped them explore themes around contemporary frontiers inspired by their visits.
“It was great to see the students’ skills develop over the short time – they were really interested in the different aspects of Hadrian’s Wall,” said Ruby.
“Teaching was a great experience for me, especially in my own former school. The requirements on teachers are immense and it’s shaped what I’m choosing to do in my own career. The honest feedback from the students was really useful in developing my own portfolio for continuing my studies at university.”
Ashley Hipkin is an established sculptor working with Antony Gormley. Ashley said: “We learn a lot about ancient civilisations through the objects that have persevered through time, how Roman people interacted with the materials in the world around them.
“It’s an exciting way for students to learn about a culture – engaging with the same materials, skills and processes. Making objects is an important part of any society – producing functional items and meaningful objects which express your ideas and place in the world.
“It’s so important that children learn to use their hands, manipulate materials and express themselves through physically shaping the world around them, not just through words and 2D images. Getting their sleeves rolled up – hand making things with clay and plaster – which in turn connects them back with what the Romans were doing, that’s what excites me. I hope that my involvement allows the kids to feel what that’s like.”
Errington Reay Pottery at nearby Bardon Mill has donated local Northumbrian clay – just like the Romans living in this part of the frontier would have used – and firing facilities for Ashley’s work with the children.
Haltwhistle Film Project has documented the school’s visits to Roman sites, artist teaching and the resulting creativity work in school.
Vicky Jones, film-maker with Haltwhistle Film Project said: “I like the concept of Hadrian’s Wall as a whole in a less obvious way, it’s not just about the Romans.
“For some of the students I’ve interviewed, the most interesting element was the contemporary resonance of empires, conflict and frontiers. It’s made them think about boundaries through time, and compare the impact of Hadrian’s Wall on the UK with the Berlin Wall and Gaza, for example.
“It’s interesting to see the students’ progress through the year, and being part of a schools’ project that lasts months rather than hours. Seeing their ideas and understanding develop from the initial visits, the long-term nature of Wall Face allows the pupils’ work to really evolve. Working with emerging artists is invigorating – their ideas are so fresh. So it’s exciting to be able to contribute to Wall Face, and help broadcast its diversity and relevance.”
The work with Haydon Bridge High School is used as a case study to show how the Wall Face resource can be used in schools and features on the Arts Award website. Arts Award is a national scheme to support young people who want to deepen their engagement with the arts, build creative and leadership skills, and to achieve a national qualification.
Through the Wall Face project 165 KS3 children at Haydon Bridge High School are now enrolled for the Bronze Arts Award.
Nigel Mills, Wall Face programme manager said: “We are delighted that Wall Face has been a catalyst for generating high quality education resources that extend the scope of education opportunities for the World Heritage Site across the whole curriculum and all age ranges.
“Other learning resources that are available from the website include the World Heritage in Young Hands education pack created by UNESCO, and the Campaign and Eagles Have Landed education packs. There are links from the website to the programmes run at the 11 sites and museums across the World Heritage Site.”
The Wall Face learning resource is at www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/learning
The Wall Face exhibition was the first exhibition organised jointly by the partnership of heritage organisations across Hadrian’s Wall. The partnership now includes Northumberland National Park Authority and is planning a major Wall-wide exhibition for 2017, Hadrian’s Cavalry, with funding from Arts Council England’s museum resilience fund.