It’s over once again. After the months of preparation, weeks of admin, exhausting hours of energetic schools sessions and the all-too short minutes of seeing (mostly) happy children receive their prizes, the MUSA Young Artist Award is over for another year.
Last night we gave 37 prizes to 37 children whose artworks were selected from the 903 sent in by 21 schools from across Fife. This bit of my job’s always a joy as the budding Paolozzis and Picassos put on their finest to shake hands with a University dignitary (this year Verity Brown, the Vice-Principal for Enterprise and Engagement), receive their medal and smile for the cameras (well, some of them – others are just too shy).
For those who don’t know, the MUSA Young Artist Award happens every year. We welcome hundreds of children to workshops at the museum, where they think about the theme for that year from the perspective of an artist, before heading back to school to prepare their entry.
This year we considered Brilliant Bodies. In workshops we looked at a skeleton to discover the importance of our bones, investigated our senses and delved into the work of 16th century doctor Andreas Vesalius. At that time doctors genuinely thought that some of our bones were the same as those of dogs. (They must have been barking mad!) For the first time, Vesalius thought it would be a good idea to actually look inside the body and check. Surprise surprise, our bones are different! This simple idea means that our friend Andreas is actually quite important.
During these workshops we saw careful watercolours of our insides (“is that the Biblical chord?” asked one child pointing at the large intestine), considered the realism of some Victorian wax models of body parts (“Do you think the person who made this looked at the body part he was making?” “A bit too closely, urgh!”) and peeked at a real human heart (“I can see why they don’t put that on Valentine’s cards”). We also discovered that thinking of the body as a machine, as famous artist Eduardo Paolozzi did, can help us understand how we work.
And it all paid off – after seeing 1274 pupils and going through over 8000 cotton buds (to make skeletons, obviously) we received some amazing drawings, unbelievable sculptures made from recycled materials, a beautiful textile heart in a box, prints, watercolours, clay models, felt tip drawings, paintings and a massive insight into the skill and creativity of Fife’s young artists.
You can see the entries at the Gateway Galleries until 22nd August (though sadly closed during the Open Championship) or on the Young Artist Award website.
And now the work is done. But not for long – we’re already planning the displays we’ll use for next year’s competition on the theme of wonders of the world.