Project aims to inspire Sheffield students and support teachers through in-depth design

Students in Sheffield are being asked to think outside the box as part of a project to inspire and engage them with art and design in secondary school.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 11:15 am
Updated Friday, 7th June 2019, 12:35 pm
Sophie Bailey, Sharmin Uddin and Reece Sheldon take a look at the exhibitions in the Millennium Gallery

Pupils from Handsworth Grange Community Sports College are the latest to take part in the DesignLab Nation project run in partnership with Sheffield schools, Museum Sheffield and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

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Abigail Rick with a silver teapot designed by Christopher Dresser

The project involves visits to the Millennium Gallery, the V&A and Sheffield Hallam University’s Institute of Arts building and encourages youngsters to develop practical skills in hopes of inspiring the new generation of designers. 

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Inspired by the current display at the Millennium Gallery – Christoper Dresser, Pioneer of Modern Design – the Year 8 art and design students worked with Sheffield artist Sarah Jane Palmer to create a household object to enhance a user’s sense of wellbeing.

During the full-day workshop at the gallery, students built on work they had already done at school as they were asked to think outside the box to create drawings and ideas which would later be developed into pattern designs. 

Anita Hamlin, learning and participation coordinator at Museum Sheffield, helped deliver the programme.

Alyssia Spalton explores the Christopher Dresser exhibition

She said: “Christopher Dresser was around in the 1800’s and started as a botanist so was inspired by plants. Slowly his drawings became abstract and changed to 3D designs for items such as vases and teapots.

“James Dixon & Sons in Sheffield even created some of his metal designs.

“We’ve found that students find it hard at first to let go and be creative. It is about giving them the chance to get things wrong, be creative and learn something new. They can break free from the classroom, meet real designers and see prospects available to them.

“It is about opening their eyes, I think that is really important.”

Abdurrahman Khan in the Millennium Gallery

DesignLab Nation is fully-funded by the V&A Museum and aims to support design education for children aged between 11 and 16 years old and provide training for teachers to produce outcomes ‘beyond the boundaries of the scheduled curriculum’. 

Various schools across Sheffield have already been involved with the programme, which is now in its third term.

The Handsworth Grange pupils will be visiting the V&A Museum next Friday to take a look at their collections.

Anita added: “The children have been amazing and so engaged. They’ve all being quite proud of their sketches and have been excited to show me. They’ve really come out their shell and it has helped boost their confidence.”

Mohammed Ishaq-Zay exploring the interactive side of the exhibition