Skip to content

CAKE Mix: Creative Education, Educating Creatively

A view of Durham’s skyline on a bright winters day provided magnificent backdrop for our 28th Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) event, which took place at the Calman Learning Centre, Durham University. This month we explored the theme ‘Creative Education, Educating Creatively’ which provided a chance for our speakers to share their uplifting experiences and innovative approaches to education.

CAKE Mix is your chance to catch up with the event and see what unfolded on twitter #FuseCAKE.

To introduce the session was Dr. Alistair Brown, postdoctoral researcher at Durham University, where he supported innovation projects and developed connections between arts and crafts practitioners and businesses in the County Durham area.

Our first speaker, Beano, is founder of the Mental Health charity RTProjects, which has established an Arts for Wellbeing programme as an alternative to medical treatments “Using Art to Save Lives”. Showing some powerful paintings and a paper mache pig, Beano shared an emotive story that explained the positive effect an artistic outlet can have, on people affected by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other mental health disorders.

Our second speaker was Simon James, Professor of Victorian Literature, Chair of the Research Panel and Principal Investigator of the Durham Commission on Creativity and Education – the Commission aims to identify ways in which creativity, and specifically creative thinking, can play a larger part in the lives of young people, both within and beyond the current education system.

The partnership, which began in spring 2018, is developing recommendations to address the decline in teaching of traditionally creative subjects, like music – if adopted the recommendations could lead to a change in education policy. Simon expressed that the Commission is engaging with academics from across faculties: an example of how creativity encompasses a broader spectrum of sectors.

Ensuring creative and creative subjects are part of the school curriculum instils the capacity to work and think flexibly an attribute in across all spheres.

Next up, joining the line-up of speakers was Jen Barrett, Founder and Managing Director at This Is Creative Enterprise (TICE) a non-profit organisation.

Jen gave an insight into how TICE ignites creativity in secondary education, brokering relationships with commercial creative and digital industries. TICE delivers projects, programmes and one-day workshops that can cover a wide range of areas including fashion, textiles surface design, graphic design, illustration, creative writing, animation, software development, music industry, creative enterprise and photography.

Jen explained the philosophy behind the TICE programme which runs in three different stages, each of them tailored to specific needs. Insight is a one day workshop delivered in schools, so that students feel comfortable in their own environment and the TICE delivery team can get to know their interests and desired outcomes. Next step is Explore: two days to be spent out in industry and higher educational settings where students can ask questions and gain real world experience. The last one is Create – 3 days on an industry led project, which gives students more options to choose and then work on real industry projects. One of the activities involved was experiential marketing: delivered in collaboration with the Bowes Museum, the workshop was meant to enhance audiences’ experience and interest in fashion.

To conclude the event was a visual conversation between Ladan Cockshut (Durham University) and Marian Hernandez-Villada. Eight months ago Marian engaged with Creative Fuse North East participating at the programme ‘Teach Your Art’ encouraging creative practitioners to think how they would have developed workshops and how teach their art to a broader public. Building networks with other artists was very relevant to receive sincere feedback and share knowledge in a friendly way.

The programme had a massive impact on Marian who accomplished the launch of her new business Callooh! Marian strongly believes that everybody can be creative, yet often people don’t believe it. She reflected on relationships between creativity and education and how these can be expressed, and is fascinated by the power that languages have in terms of self-expression, communication and growth, Marian has worked with colleges and with people affected by dementia teaching skills and art practice. Marian illustrated how her workshops aim to design a space that allows people to have a full experience and enjoyment of the process of creating something, while engaging with different audiences.

Marian employed a crowdsourcing approach to creating her collective painting at Make in Durham, where members of the public – from babies to elderly ladies – got a taste for acrylics. The painting is the result of something that was created collaboratively, a piece of art that represents the iconic skyline of Durham.

The final Q&A session was the moment to ignite further discussions, yet to leave some reflections for the future as well. If Arts can be used in different ways, for example tackling isolation, it’s self-evident that everybody can be creative: not just talented children but everybody.

Sweet surprises are never far away at CAKE events – this month cheese scones and huge chocolate muffins were a blessing on the cold day and provided the perfect atmosphere for networking.

Next CAKE Event

Join us next time for CAKE 29 – this edition of CAKE will revolve around the theme “Ageing”. The event will challenge what we think of when we hear the word “ageing”, with a focus on positive ageing, lifelong ageing and ageing well. We will have speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds who explore how ageing intersects with innovation and creativity. They will explain how this has resulted in new and unexpected collaborations, which have been fuelled by creativity and uncovered new business opportunities. Come and join us to hear how some of the regions innovators are helping us to age better. And, of course, CAKE!

Thursday 28th February, Life Science Centre – Marlborough Suite, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP