The Making Memories project was about young children being given vital opportunities to use their hands, bodies, imaginations and intellect, to investigate, enjoy and learn from the outdoors. In partnership with artist James Aldridge, The Secret Garden and Salisbury Arts Centre, First Steps Nursery created the project to celebrate its 25th year.
This exhibition shares photographic documentation of the project, plus artwork made by them, and also artwork made by James both as research, and in response to his time spent with the children.
‘Making Memories is a fitting tribute to our nursery in its 25th year. We pride ourselves on the quality of the relationships we have with our families and on our commitment to being a part of the wider Salisbury community. We are a nursery situated in the heart of the city, with children at the heart of all we do.
Over the last 3 months our children, their families and the staff have submerged themselves in the project with trips to the garden, parent sessions, a tree planting morning and James coming into the nursery to work with the children here. The quality of the learning has been extraordinary and the experience something that we will all remember for a long time to come.’
Leigh Chalmers, First Steps Nursery
James Aldridge is a visual artist based near Devizes in Wiltshire, who uses his practice to explore his own and others’ bodily and perceptual relationship, with their local natural and cultural heritage.
James is interested in the relationship between art and embodied learning, with a working process that combines direct sensory interaction with an environment (walking, collecting, recording), research into the ecology or history of the area, and reflection on or interpretation of that research through making.
‘The fact that a project like this is responsive to the needs and interests of the children is key to its success. We aren’t setting out to provide the children with a set way to see their world, and set facts to learn about it, we are enabling them to make use of their own innate capacities, their own ideas, interests and imaginations.’
James Aldridge, Artist
The Secret Garden, Salisbury is a community garden project, with a wildlife, arts & education twist. The garden is based in the old St Clements churchyard in the heart of the city of Salisbury, and has been running since summer 2015.
The project’s main aim is to bring the magic & restorative power of nature to the community through gentle gardening and encouraging wildlife. It also offers activities in the garden ranging from planting for pollinators ideas, history talks and art workshops, to story telling for children.
‘James way of working exactly mirrors our deep conviction that discovery, outdoor play and wonder are essential tools for making happy adult human beings. I believe that every child should have opportunities like this, and develop a real centre of happiness, from which they can draw on through life.’
Rebecca Twigg, Director at The Secret Garden Salisbury
You can find out more about the Making Memories project by searching for #MakeMemoryWilts on Twitter and Facebook. Please also use this tag when posting your own images and comments. You can also visit James’s blog for his reflections on the project, via the link below.
For more information on First Steps Nursery see www.facebook.com/First-Steps-Nursery-612882518821218/
Find out more about James’s practice and links to his blog and social media go to www.jamesaldridge-artist.co.uk
For information on the work of The Secret Garden, including the Bee City project and the recently launched Salisbury Bee Trail visit www.secretgardensalisbury.co.uk