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Artwork from Cultural Rivers SOTA project

26 Jan 2015

Children’s art exhibition celebrates culture and diversity of first generation immigrants

The culture and diversity of first generation immigrants is highlighted in a new art exhibition launched today (Monday 26 January)

The exhibition – Cultural Rivers – is collection of art, animation and film produced by children who are first generation immigrants to the UK.  It represents the outcome of a pilot project developed by Loughborough University and the University of Sunderland which sought to use creative processes to explore the current emotional, educational and physical position of the children.

In 2013, over 1 million children whose first language was not English attended school in the UK, more than 34,000 of them in the East Midlands. Existing academic research and literature has focused on the experience of young people born to migrant parents, with the problems of first generation migrants receiving limited attention. The project was designed to address this.  It sought to provide an insight into the experiences of the children and an opportunity to allow them to express themselves and build confidence.

During the project the child took control of their art at each stage of production and produced the outcomes entirely independently. Care was taken by facilitators not to interfere with the spontaneity, creativity and direction of each piece. Each child directed, created and controlled all elements from the storyboarding, sound, scripts, music, animation, film, and art work right through to the overall final design. The children had to learn and understand the English language without interpreters, the technical and practical aspects of filmmaking as well as explore many techniques, approaches and styles. 

Melanie Hani from the Animation Academy at Loughborough University and Elaine Drainville from HEART (Healing, Education, Animation, Research, Therapy) at the University of Sunderland led the project. They worked with young people newly arrived in this country currently in attendance at Boothwood School, Loughborough.

Melanie comments: “This exhibition illustrates the hard work and dedication of the children involved. It highlights their openness to explore and express emotions, techniques and ideas. It allows the celebration of culture and diversity, bringing about a positive feeling of community.  We have learned a great deal about the positive benefits of art, animation and film.”

Julie Harvey, Headteacher, Boothwood School said: “The children thoroughly enjoyed taking part, learning lots of new skills in animation and filmmaking. Their confidence grew as the project developed and we saw an increased articulacy and ability to express their feelings.”

The Exhibition, being staged at Loughborough Library, will be opened by Paul Wells, Director of the Animation Academy, Loughborough University. Paul is an established scriptwriter and director who has worked on projects including 'The Simpsons' and 'SpongeBob Squarepants.', He has also made documentaries about animation, featuring Sir Paul McCartney, Tim Burton and Nick Park.  Paul will be joined by ‘The Wise Old Reading Owl, Witty' who will cut the ribbon on the opening night. 

At the launch event visitors will be able to ‘have a go’ at animation, see the work, enjoy nibbles and drinks and explore books from around the world.  The event starts at 5.30 and all are welcome to attend.

The exhibition will be open to the public until 28 February.

Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 15/07

Representatives of the media are welcome to attend the exhibition where University representatives will be available for interview.

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.

Contact for all media enquiries

Alison Barlow
Senior PR Officer
Marketing & Advancement
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228696