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Young artists given platform to shine at annual MakeArt exhibition

PUBLISHED: 12:37 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:06 11 December 2018

Loris Mills (10) pictured with her ceramic cactus at the launch event on Friday. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Loris Mills (10) pictured with her ceramic cactus at the launch event on Friday. Picture: Polly Hancock.

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An art exhibition featuring work by children aged four to 16 is currently underway at the Islington Arts Factory on Parkhurst Road.

After opening the exhibition, Mayor of Islington Cllr Dave Poyser looks around the artwork with some of the young artists. Picture: Polly Hancock.After opening the exhibition, Mayor of Islington Cllr Dave Poyser looks around the artwork with some of the young artists. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The MakeArt exhibition is the annual showcase of work that has been created by budding artists at after-school sessions and holiday camps across the year. The show opened with a private viewing on Friday (December 7) when the artists, their friends and family came together to celebrate the fruits of their labour at an event also attended by the mayor, Councillor Dave Poyser.

Eleanor Pearce is the Director of Art at the Islington Arts Factory and has been involved with the MakeArt programme for around ten years.

“Sometimes in primary school, art doesn’t get the time and attention that it deserves,” she says.

“Art can be a reward activity which gets the odd hour here or there. With MakeArt children can work more consistently, with professional artists, and see how working together on a creative project can be so rewarding.

Hiyabel De Perzio (7) with the model village made by the Thursday Make Art group. Picture: Polly Hancock.Hiyabel De Perzio (7) with the model village made by the Thursday Make Art group. Picture: Polly Hancock.

“We see young people as artists (level with adults) and respect them as such. With this exhibition, we want to present their work to the public, their friends and family. It’s a great way of drawing on a long period of work, and it’s something impressive that they can all feel a part of.

“We’ve got large-scale pieces that children have contributed to over many weeks, and we’ve also got holiday projects where they have worked the whole week together to produce something really impressive.”

The exhibition continues until December 21 and is packed with all kinds of creative and colourful work. Highlights among the collection include a huge painted tableau of dancing figures inspired by the Venice Carnival, a group painting of The Reptile House and a sculpture of The Vegetable Man; made by those present at MakeArt’s half-term workshop, Ode to Autumn.

There are also wooden pull-string puppets, a papier-mâché city and beautiful prints inspired by flowers and birds.

Lucia Neophytou-Weir (12) with ceramics. Picture: Polly Hancock.Lucia Neophytou-Weir (12) with ceramics. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Reflecting on Friday’s launch event, Pearce said: “The mayor was really great with the kids, he’s very jolly!

“They loved meeting him dressed in his fabulous robes, for any artist – if you get some press attention it’s a really nice thing. To let them know that the message is spreading a bit wider, it’s a special moment.

“We’ve got a few new families but also long-term connections to kids that have been coming since they were in their parents arms, and now they are teenagers.”

The MakeArt Programme is a product of the Islington Arts Factory and is delivered by Pearce alongside Kayley Holderness, Josephine Sweeney and Jude Lacey. The current exhibition also includes work from outreach classes held at Hugh Myddelton and Hanover primary schools.

Mayzee Wooding (13) who attends Camden School For Girls with pencil drawings of sheep, hers is top right. Picture: Polly Hancock.Mayzee Wooding (13) who attends Camden School For Girls with pencil drawings of sheep, hers is top right. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Aside from the confidence boost of having their work on display, Pearce thinks the benefits of the exhibition equip children with a number of other life skills.

“It can teach the kids about collaboration and teamwork, but there are also studies that suggest art can have a positive impact on mental health, which is a real issue for young people at the moment.

“We are giving our young people the space to express themselves and unleash their creativity, which in turn empowers them.”

The MakeArt Exhibition runs at the Islington Arts Factory, 2 Parkhurst Road, N7 0SF until Friday December 21. More information can be found here.

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