Thursday 22nd June 2017

Residency transforms school to provide breathing space for staff

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Teachers at a school in Rainford have been taking advantage of a new ‘breathing space’ in the form of an encampment designed and erected by artist Mark Storor with students.

A new communal space for staff at Rainford High Technology College in the borough of St Helens was created by students this week as part of a long term artist residency.

Storor has worked in the school since October 2016 when he was invited to explore and respond to the schools emotional health. After a series of workshops with staff and pupils Storor decided to create a pop-up space specifically for teachers.

The re-vitalised area in the central quadrangle of the school was opened after pupils were invited to work with staff to celebrate the coming together of teachers in a recreational space. A main tent, flanked by other tents, artwork and blankets was used as a place for staff to get a cup of coffee and cake.

Storor has been in St Helens since October 2015 working in various communities through a series of short term bespoke projects.

He said: “Its more than the students creating something for the teachers, it is about creating a communal space for all staff. The young artists I have been working with recognise not only the need for a dedicated communal place, but the absolute value in ‘real’ and symbolic terms of a space to ‘breathe’. A pause for thought, for reflection and permission to take that moment.”

Rory Hughes, Head of Art & Photography at Rainford High Technology College, said: “Having Mark here and working with students and staff has altered the environment of the school. Through the workshops I believe the look, feel and atmosphere of the school has subtly changed.”

“Firstly it’s altered how everyone engages with that particular space. It’s also slightly adapted the way students and teachers have treated the recreational time, in a positive way. It’s good for the students to see teachers socialising together and this open space has made that possible.”

“I think long term subtle changes will feed into our school, this has highlighted to everyone the use of space and how we spend time together. I think as an art project, what has been created through the artist, the students and the staff will bring about positive change.”

Ian Young, Principal of Rainford High Technology College, said: “The work that has been done by students and staff with Mark has allowed a shared experience and sense of identity to emerge across the school. It has raised the community feel good factor across the whole school.”

Mark Storor is an award-winning British artist with a national and international reputation. Working in the space between live art and theatre, he has been described in the British press as “a genuinely visionary theatre maker” and “an alchemist”.  He is currently working on a 12 year residency with Heart of Glass, based in St Helens, Merseyside, titled Baa Baa Baric: Have You Any Pull? A Quiet Revolution, the work is a long term collaboration with the people of St Helens.