Unique school project brings country alive

Cuckmere SUS-140304-170004001
Cuckmere SUS-140304-170004001

A unique project that brought together 45 schools and 2,407 school children from East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire to create art work inspired by the South Downs National Park will culminate in a special exhibition at the Towner this summer.

The Towner’s School Downs Exhibition is the largest yet thanks to a partnership with the South Downs National Park Authority and charity Learning Through Landscapes that has enabled schools across the South East to engage in unique cultural and outdoor learning opportunities.

Pupils have collaborated to produce artwork for the exhibition inspired by works chosen from the Towner’s collection that feature locations in the South Downs National Park including artists Harold Mockford, Jem Southam, Eric Ravilious, Louisa Catherine Paris and Alfred Fitzwalter Grace.

In the exhibition, the collection art works will be shown alongside the schools’ artwork and work by young people’s groups at the Towner Gallery, giving a multitude of perspectives on the inspiring landscape that surrounds us.

Schools have been able to see the works first-hand at the gallery or use online teaching resources that have been specially created to support exploration of both the art and the outdoor locations.

This spring, several schools from Sussex took their pupils to Birling Gap, Beachy Head, Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven, Lewes, Ditching and Arundel to be inspired by the natural environment in the National Park.

The School Downs Exhibition is the fifth annual schools exhibition the Towner has organised since the new building opened in April 2009. The Towner’s award-winning work with children and young people and adults, including young offenders, people with learning difficulties and disabilities and older people, is at the heart of the organisation’s work.

Clare Halstead, learning and outreach manager, said, “The School Downs Exhibition is a brilliant example of how partnership working can benefit an even greater number of children and young people to develop an appreciation of the rich artistic, environmental and cultural heritage we have here in Sussex.”

• The School Downs Exhibition is at the Towner from May 3-June 16. Open Tuesday- Sunday, and Bank Holidays from 10am-6pm.

Entry is free.