Pupils to see their stories in print as part of innovative arts project

& Artist Julia Stafford (seated centre) and teacher Alison Quinn (standing
& Artist Julia Stafford (seated centre) and teacher Alison Quinn (standing

Pupils from five South Tyneside schools are set to see their stories in print as part of an innovative arts project.

Youngsters have teamed up with regional artists to produce a series of storybooks.

Artist Josie Brookes (standing back right) with teacher Vicky James

Artist Josie Brookes (standing back right) with teacher Vicky James

Using their imagination and help from their families, their words and pictures will be used to create the books which will be available for sale.

The project has been organised by the Cultural Spring and involves pupils from schools including: St Aloysius RC VA Junior School, Hebburn, which has teamed up with artist/illustrator Josie Brookes; Lord Blyton Primary School, South Shields which is working with artist Julia Stafford; Hadrian Primary School, South Shields which will be working alongside artist/designer Alizon Bennet; Biddick Hall Infants School, South Shields which has teamed up with illustrator Laura Joy Robertson and Holy Trinity CE Academy which is working with Blyth-based arts organization Headway Arts.

The artists were chosen by the schools following an interview process.

Emma Horsman, Project Director at the Cultural Spring said: “As well as producing what we hope will be beautiful books, the project is aimed at increasing literacy levels and interest in books and reading,

The project is aimed at increasing literacy levels and interest in books and reading.

Emma Horsman

“We’re not being at all prescriptive about the stories produced – the children might come up with ideas around the borough’s history, stories around football or sport, or anything else. I’m sure that the artists will really fire their imaginations.”

Each artists will work with the children to create artwork to go alongside the stories, while supporting youngsters to create their own artwork.

Vicky James, a teacher at St Aloysius, said: “As a school we try to be as creative as possible within our curriculum and recognise the value art has in engaging children and improving not only their academic attainment but also their self esteem.

“We wanted to be part of the project as it is a fantastic opportunity for children to work as a team to realise and celebrate their unique talents and achievements. To work with an established artist is something extraordinary and inspiring for our children. Getting the families involved is also very exciting, it makes our school community even stronger and allows the children to share something special and work towards a shared goal with their family member.

“I think everyone involved will benefit from the project; in just the first session everyone was clearly having fun, talking and listening to each other. It will give parents a chance to be part of their children’s school life in a practical way and allows children see their parents in a totally different environment.”

The project has been supported by South Tyneside Council and The Customs House. It is hoped the books produced will be on sale by October.

The Cultural Spring is an Arts Council England project aimed at increasing arts participation in South Tyneside and Sunderland. The project’s four partners are the University of Sunderland; the Customs House, South Shields, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s health organisation.