Area 51 Exhibition [10/09-12/10/12]

“I like painting lots. Because it is good. Painting is my favourite.”

A collection of paintings by the young people of Area 51 Education
From 10th September to 12th October 2012, 10am-4pm (Monday-Friday)

Private View on Thursday 13th September, 6:30pm to 8.30pm
Karamel, Chocolate Factory 2, 4 Coburg Road, Wood Green London N22 6UJ; 020 8829 8900

Collage Arts and Karamel are delighted to be hosting this exhibition of works produced with a group from Area 51 Education. The project was undertaken to coincide with the Paralympics and shares in the events overriding themes of identity, ability and achievement. In workshops with Chocolate Factory artist Yana Stajno the students were introduced to a variety of materials and skills, and encouraged to experiment with these and develop distinct creations that are recognisably the work of each individual. As evidenced by the work on display, each participant took to this enthusiastically and was able to find their own strength within the selection of new techniques they had been shown. The result is an eclectic mix of collage and portraiture, paint and pastel, impressionist and abstract, but all born out of the same eagerness to learn and create. As well as the chance to develop artistically, for the young people, being able to work together outside of their usual environment and with an unfamiliar teacher meant an added level of responsibility which they easily matched to make the sessions productive and fun for all involved. This newfound self-confidence really comes through in the artworks here, making them just as enjoyable to view as they must have been to create.

Yana Stajno:
It’s hugely rewarding doing this arts project with a select group of students from Area 51. I am enjoying getting to know them. They come with individually different skills and talents and each have a unique view of the world and singular ways of expressing it. For instance, Josh has a great sense of shape and form, Rebecca is a born painter, Marios a very talented draftsman, Kris is gentle in his approach to the work; he loves games, is gaining confidence and loves building collaborative work. Another young man is a colourist and a miniaturist. Susanna is a very inventive artist who is also alive to the needs of everyone in the group. Wilfred only came for a couple of sessions but is enormously talented. David has only just joined us but has already made a huge contribution to our collection of good drawings and our collaborative work. My approach is to discover and facilitate the natural expression each student reveals in the course of our time together and to guide this towards a portrait of a Paralympian. To reach this we are exploring different sports, countries, movement and lack of movement. I am also introducing them to all the basic skills that make up an artist’s toolbox—mixing colours, working with form and tone and texture and having the courage to develop work and not give up on it. The young people are incredibly responsive and attentive and give back just as much as I give them. It’s been a great pleasure and an honour working with them.

The art project with Collage Arts has been great fun from the start and I’m really excited that students from Area 51 have had the chance to get involved with this exciting venture. Art is a favourite subject in college for a lot of people and everyone enjoys trying out new materials and using them in different ways, especially the students taking part in the weekly workshops.

Having the opportunity to learn from a local artist has proven to be a fantastic experience. Working in a studio environment has provided Area 51 students with the chance to explore the theme of portraiture in great depth using materials and methods they haven’t accessed until now. One student in particular is really enjoying creating her work on an easel, rather than a classroom table. Whilst working on the easel she said, “I’m an artist!”

Collage Arts is a leading creative industry development organisation which founded and manages both Chocolate Factories, now home to a community of over two hundred artists and creative companies. The focus of the organisation is to facilitate artists and creative businesses, while also providing arts-based training for young people in an encouraging environment that is rich with resources. Collage Arts has been in some way active in the arts community for over 25 years, and works with a number of partner organisations across Europe to deliver experience lead training and a variety of opportunities for further progression in the creative field.

Area 51 is a charitable organisation working with young people who have severe, complex, or profound learning difficulties. They offer a range of full time, further-education courses to their participants and have previously worked with Collage Arts to place students in work environments such as Karamel. Their main focus is to teach valuable life and work skills, but with an emphasis on self-expression. They do this through the provision of fun and exciting activities which are designed to engage their student’s sense of adventure and discovery, and unlock the potential they all have, while imparting the necessary knowledge to guide them into adulthood.


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