By Sara Valle-Martínez
Art is a means of communication to express feelings, thoughts, and even beliefs without words. In fact, it can help to understand others better. Sometimes that is especially helpful with children.
You may think children are simple and you know what they need and want. But are you really sure? After all, every person is different, and children are just grown-ups in the making.
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art has its own educational program, which, in collaboration with schools, helps these – perhaps – artists in the making communicate better.
Jenny Pengilly, the gallery’s educational coordinator, said: “We encourage open interpretation to get [children] to think about what they see and that it is valid instead of telling them what it is. It’s more about the imaginative interpretation.”
Ms Pengilly knows about the benefits of art, as she studied it herself. She has been part of the Estorick gallery’s team for seven years and working with children is one of her favourite things.
The gallery is located in 39A Canonbury, in a restored Georgian town house, near Highbury and Islington station in North London. It holds the private collection of Eric and Salome Estorick,which includes artwork by different Italian artists. Umberto Boccioni’s Model Idol is a children’s favourite.
“Art is something that is encouraged every day in our school,” said Ismael López, 27, who works as a teacher in Oasis Academy Silverton in East London. “It improves children’s self-esteem, creativity and teamwork.”
As López said, art has proven to help children with self-expression and managing their feelings as well as improving their confidence, self-esteem, patience, concentration, and even motor and organisational skills.
The Estorick’s educational program has proved to be an enriching experience for children, with guided tours and workshops involving drawing lessons and games, as well as futurism, portraiture or still life.
“I like using the artwork as a way to talk about different issues but also for them to talk about how they see things… It’s about sharing their voice through artwork,” added Ms Pengilly.
The gallery sometimes displays the children’s art – Pengilly said is one of the most common requests and “children love it”. They can see their artwork hanging in the same space as Music by Luigi Russolo, a painting with vivid colours that always catches their attention.
“I think it’s key to make them feel we care about what they think and their creativity. I enjoy seeing my students doing that,” said Mr López.