Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, and supported with investment from Artswork, the South East Bridge.
A role model is someone who serves as an example, or whose behaviour is emulated by others. Experiencing other people’s stories, observing their successes and triumphs as well as their problems and dilemmas, is often a key component of different art forms.
We are looking for an artist who is inspired at the thought of working in an educational setting with children and young people, and who is curious and excited about how role models might strengthen prosocial behaviour amongst pupils. We are also interested in how the arts can support the whole school in serving as an example of a kind and caring community.
(from 2014 Artist Commission Brief)
Bob Karper is a multidisciplinary artist whose work features true stories performed live, with documentary film, song, projected images and a variety of musical instruments. During this commission he connected Lunsford Primary School with residents from two care homes (Lavenders and St Martin Abbeyfields) in their community, exploring role models. Through poetry, projection, song, photography and performance, the commission illuminated our research in how role models might play a part in strengthening pro-social behaviour. Bob also brought on board other fantastic artists to work on the project, including John Hegley, Shula Hawes and Gitika Partington.
I’m absolutely delighted to be working with People United and Lunsford Primary School on the Role Model initiative: recording and reimagining guided interactions with local care home residents, exploring our valued treasures, our treasured values and the people who have mattered to us throughout our lives. It’s a beautiful project.
Over 250 people (children, parents, care home residents and their families) visited the school on a chilly and misty evening in November 2014 to see and celebrate all the work that had taken place during the commission.
To find out more, you can read an interview with Bob below, and the blog he wrote throughout the commission. You can also watch Bob’s film This is Your Life, showing the session when pupils recreated scenes from the lives of the care home residents. You can also hear Lunsford’s pupil Alex read his poem My Nan during the first session at Abbeyfields Care Home:
Reflections by Bob on the process, his understanding of role models, and the importance of intergenerational work can be seen in Tim Knights’ artist film about ‘Treasure’.
As part of this commission, we collaborated with the School of Psychology at the University of Kent to evaluate the impact of the commission on the pupils. We conducted two questionnaires (one before the commission and one after the commission) that measured perceptions of and attitudes towards the elderly, willingness to cooperate with the elderly, prosocial intentions (or kindness) generally and prosocial intentions towards the elderly specifically, who children’s role models are and why, and children’s understanding of different art form. Early results are encouraging and have shown some significant changes to negative perceptions of the elderly and kindness towards the elderly by young people.
We will share the results soon.
He has changed the way I see old people. Just because they are older you shouldn’t treat them different.
Lunsford Primary School Pupil
In addition to the commission, every child in the school achieved their Discover Arts Award. Beautifully decorating shoeboxes, the children shared their learning about the arts with each other and the audience that came to the school for the final event.
Our story with Lunsford Primary School doesn’t end here as we developed resource for schools based on the work that took place. With support from a number of educational experts we have trialled the resource for primary schools which explores values, role models and the SMSC curriculum through arts-led and creative literacy-led activities. It is available to download now from our resources page.