“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir
On the 30th of October 2018, I joined RSPB Scotland’s Miranda Shepard, at Quarrymill Woodland Park in Scone. As I walked along the woodland path I wondered what wildlife I would encounter. A flock of ‘excited-child-explores!’ They ran through the woodlands singing the Great Tit’s song. ‘Teacher, teacher, teacher’ echoed through the trees. The children under the guidance of the RSPB are studying four challenges to achieve the John Muir Award.
“Discover, Explore, Conserve, Share”
The sound in our natural environment is a symphony of sounds, an encounter full of experiences, feelings, and gestures. I intend to join Miranda on many more Quarrymill adventures. To observe a child’s experience of wild sounds. I wonder what they will hear? And will I find any in-between-ness here?
On Wednesday 1st of March, I attended a workshop for school children, run by the learning team at the McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. The workshop explored the ‘Refection of the Celts Exhibition’ where the children loved discussing the culture, discovering the exhibition and making Celt inspired helmets.
On display in the ‘Refection of the Celts Exhibition’ hangs a painting called ‘Riders of the Sidhe’ by a Dundonian painter John Duncan. He painted this after spending time exploring Eriskay, Barra and Iona.  He describes;
“The mystery, exuberance and restraint of Celtic art”.
These feeling can be sensed as you wander around the exhibition and I began to think about artifacts and the exhibition experience, how do they add to the children’s understanding of the Celts? I believe the answer lies in a Celtic atmosphere created by the exhibition and the children freedom of choice.
The school group gained knowledge by exploring, experiencing and researching the Celts through objects by applying;
Curiosity: Free to question and select what objects to look at and draw.
Collaboration: They organise themselves into groups for the creative activity, this allowed each group to work well together.
Creativity: Instruction was given on how to make the helmets but they were free to decorate using their own designs influenced by their research and experience.
Here some examples of their work.
 Jarron, M (2015). “independent & individualist” Art in Dundee 1867-1927. Dundee: Abertay Historical Society. P81.
I was asked to attend the gallery as an introduction to how the creative team at the McManus work with groups. Ninety school children from Broughty Ferry ascended upon the museum, to learn about a Bonnie Prince and some Jacobites. Fortunately, the creative team had logistics already in place, to navigating so many children carefully around the gallery space. I watch as military precision and planning was organised that would make any soldiers heart race. Two hours later a troop of happy children marched out bearing newly made Jacobite shields and returned, homeward bound to the ‘Ferry’.
Things I have learned about children in a museum:
Ninety children are very loud in an acoustic space.
Movement in the space has to well planned and organised.
Children spend a lot of time looking up or crouching down.
They mix factual and fictional description of things.
They enjoyed interacting with the space in the gallery.
Please note: Documentation for this project has photographic restrictions in place.