Lakeside Arts
Part of University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts

Girl looks thoughtfully as robot


Featured at British Council SPARK Festival October 2021, Hong Kong

This September, Lakeside Arts, the University of Nottingham’s public art programme, began an exciting new partnership with Djanogly Strelley Academy. Introduced by ChalleNGe, Nottingham’s Cultural Education Partnership, all parties are committed to working together to build a new long-term relationship involving Lakeside’s team, artists, staff and students at the University, and the staff and students at the School. Together they’ll be exploring new ways of working: in school; on site in University academic departments; at Lakeside; and online with global partners in order to develop and strengthen a shared understanding of how creativity can add value within the core curriculum.

A first project, proposed by Lakeside and supported by the Office for Global Engagement at the University, led to a funding submission to The British Council in relation to the online SPARK Festival 2021. Inspired by Makers of Imaginary Worlds’ installation of wonderful interactive mechanical circus contraptions titled Thingamabobas, the proposal sought to use creativity as a developmental tool to raise aspiration and attainment, to identify new ways of working and to embed creativity at the heart of the recovery curriculum.

The bid was successful and enabled a first action research project led Makers of Imaginary Worlds Co-Artistic Directors Roma Patel and Rachel Ramchurn who are resident at the University’s Trust Automated System Hub (Robots and Automation systems) and Mixed Reality Lab. With the assistance of Tim Wong at the British Council, artists and a partner school were identified in Hong Kong. This has enabled students in two age groups (6-7 years and 9-11 years) in the UK and Hong Kong to be engaged simultaneously in a series of 6 workshops focused on Design Thinking and Tinkering.

Children on left: working in a classroom. Children on right: Children in classroom holding items

The workshops aimed to encourage critical thinking, problem solving and creativity, to build confidence amongst the children so they can explore ideas, test them and try again without losing heart of feeling that they have failed. The learning from these sessions would inform and refine the content of a Learning Pack to accompany future Thingamabobas installations touring nationally. Roma and Rachel worked in partnership with two artists – Zoie So and Agnes Pang – who led the same process in Hong Kong at Sam Shui Natives Association Huen King Wing School. The process and obvious engagement of the children was clearly evidenced in a film created by Georgianna Scurfield and the story of the process and the children’s own Thingamabobas inventions are now proudly exhibited in a Virtual gallery on the company’s website

Commenting on his School’s participation in this programme, Head Teacher of Djanogly Strelley Academy, Ben Armstrong said:

The children absolutely loved being part of the project and it was wonderful to see where their creativity took them over the course of the workshops. Not only did they develop their creative thinking, designing and making skills, they were also able to work collaboratively and build resilience through the trial and error process. All essential skills that they will take forward into their wider learning. We are all very excited about connecting with our new friends in Hong Kong and hope to develop this relationship further in the future.”

The artists presented their project at a panel discussion on 20 October at the British Council’s trailblazing SPARK Festival.

At the beginning of November, children from Nottingham will be meeting their counterparts online to share and celebrate their achievements. This project marks the beginning of a relationship that is set to develop in the coming months and years, aligning to the University’s Global Classrooms initiative.

For more information please contact:

Roma Patel, Co-Artistic Director, Makers of Imaginary Worlds

Rachel Ramchurn, Co-Artistic Director, Makers of Imaginary Worlds

Shona Powell OBE, Director Lakeside Arts

Ben Armstrong, Head Teacher, Djanogly Strelley Academy

British Council, Hong Kong
Cissy Lo, Head of Education

Zoie So, Artist
Agnes Pang, Artist
Please contact via Project Lead Artists Roma and Rachel

David Ouchterlonie, Associate Director Global Engagement, External Relations, University of Nottingham