Arts education: Mexico & UK exchange project

One month's voluntary work for Fundacíon Juconi in Puebla, Mexico – a charity that helps children and familiesaffected the cycle of violence and poverty. I devised/led art workshops for teenagers living in the care home, and younger children visiting the day centre. I planned projects before I left the UK, prepared more on the hoof, painted a mural in Casa Juconi's common room, and helped head office with some graphic design. 

Back in the UK, inspired by working with Juconi's children in Mexico, I created two programmes for schools (primary and secondary) incorporating curriculum learning objectives. The LEA in Swindon invited me to present my ideas to an area teachers' meeting, and I was able to bring two of the projects to Sevenfields Primary in Penhill.

Arts workshops: Casa Juconi, Puebla, Mexico.

The aim of the main project was to build the kids' self-esteem. They created self-portraits based on Julian Opie's graphic style. It strips away personal details (race, age, wealth) emphasising the inherent equality, and worth, of all people. We transferred their painting onto t-shirts (something practical and tangible).

fundacion juconi julian opie portrait

A slide from the project introduction which explained Julian Opie's work and the technique. My 'reasonable' Spanish was tested during my stay in Mexico – I had this presentation proof-read by my Spanish teacher before I left the UK!

mexico juconi puebla t-shirt portrait self-esteem

I worked a couple of days a week with a group of nine boys, all of whom lived at Casa Juconi.  Above the work of Miguel, Miguel, Angel and Consejo. Angel was one of the most talented young artists I've encountered.

casa juconi, dia de los muertos

My stay in Puebla coincided with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). The boys are pictured infront of the altar. 

International arts exchange project: Quien Soy?

I devised the 'Who am I?' (Quien soy?) project to focus on Spanish vocabulary and sentence building through bi-lingual worksheets and art activity. Pupils met 'global citizenship' and 'inter-cultural understanding' curriculum learning objectives through the exchange I organised with children at Centro Juconi in Mexico. Supported by the UK school's Spanish teacher and staff at Centro Juconi we exchanged artwork, photos and videos. 

key stage 1, spanish  arts education, spanish, primary language learning, art

The children in Swindon and Puebla filled in the same bi-lingual worksheet to describe a friend. The worksheets were exchanged so that a Mexican child made a puppet of a British child by reading their desciption and vice versa. The puppets were engineered so that arms and legs would move when the head was pulled.


Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos.

This project was devised to introduce a way of discussing death, grief and bereavement to KS1 pupils, and met SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) objectives. Mexico's Day of the Dead tradition celebrates the lives of people who have passed on by welcoming their spirits into their homes. I introduced the taboo topic of death by contrasting European culture's 'scary' Hallowe'en with the celebratory Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. We then watched a snippet of 'The Lion King' when Simba's father dies and discussed feelings. Some children had lost close family members or friends. The children made papier mache masks which they decorated with pictures that reminded them of the life of a dead person. Children could choose a famous person, I spent a lot of time talking to the students who'd decided on a deceased family member or friend, giving them an opportunity to remember that person and to normalise discussion of people who have passed on.

dia de los muertos, sevenfields, penhill, KS1

One of the slides from the introduction to the project

mask making, art, primary school, halloween

Ella's grandfather had recently died. We talked about what he had liked and the things she remembered him by. Her design included the pub, a pint of beer and the Ribena he would buy for her, his glasses and his love of birdwatching.

football, bobby moore, mask, day of the dead

Around 50 years on from the 1966 World Cup win, this boy chose to remember Bobby Moore with drawing of the World Cup trophy, West Ham strip and the England flag. He knew about Bobby Moore through his dad.