Head of Art for Primary Education at St Mary’s University, Twickenham Jo Woodbridge writes a new blog on working with the University of Navarra
The University of Navarra had approached St Mary’s to work with the equivalent of their Primary Education in their museum of modern art on the university campus in Pamplona.
The museum of modern art, designed by Rafael Moneo, houses an astounding and quite magical permanent collection of both internationally renowned artist work and the work of Basque artists. The collection was given to the University of Navarra by Maria Josefa Huarte Beaumont. The permanent collection on display includes works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Rothko and Tapies.
This partnership started initially with a visit to meet and consolidate plans with colleagues at The University of Navarra in January 2017 in order that we would become familiar with the university and the museum. The next step would then be to develop a programme of powerful and inspirational learning opportunities for students using the magnificent museum building and it’s collection.
In March I returned to The University of Navarra having designed a sequence of lectures for 64 students. The lectures were delivered over two days. These lectures were focussed upon making meaningful links to the artworks in the gallery and the process of learning and developing ideas across the primary curriculum. The education students were allowed for the first time to work and draw and make mind maps in the gallery spaces with the paintings in front of them. The immediacy of the response was heightened and understanding of materials and composition could be made in a more meaningful way.
The students were encouraged to see the artworks as marvellous vehicles for learning across all subject areas. Paintings were used as ways to start creative writing, as dance notation and as performance pieces. Students at Navarra were also asked to apply what they had learned to planning a range of lessons.
In the centre of campus at The University of Navarra is an olive tree. As a conclusion to the lectures all students tied a luggage tag on a branch of the tree. It was a collaborative performance art piece. Each student had written a word on the tag that expressed how they now felt about teaching in a gallery space. It was a moving and symbolic way to end this part of the journey with The University of Navarra.
The next chapter of the journey will be in January 2018 when Year 3 Art Electives go to Pamplona and work with their contemporaries both in the museum at Navarra, The Guggenheim in Bilboa and The Museo Orteiga in the hills above Pamplona.