Working with young people, the Fitzwilliam Museum has created a set of self-led teen specific art guides which will launch this summer.

Long summer holidays can offer young people the chance to get out and see new things or revisit those favourite places. The Fitzwilliam Museum is launching a new set of 4 art guides for young people to visit the galleries with friends or family. The guides offer starting points to stimulate discussion, develop critical thinking and make drawings from the art works.

Young people are regular attenders to the Fitzwilliam Museum but there are currently a more limited set of resources available for them during the vacations than for our younger visitors. Sarah-Cate, Education Officer at the Fitzwilliam, worked with the young people who regularly participate in the Saturday ReSource and MAKE! Art workshops to develop a set of self-led teen specific art guides.

The young people took these out for several trial runs and took their families along for the ride. Their comments were very interesting; they enjoyed the more challenging activities and they LOVE to sketch in the galleries but they also want to be pushed to look at things they don’t feel a connection with. They like to be self-led but with their family. Even the youngest of our trial group, aged just 11 years, said they like to have activities that really look in detail at just one or two art works.

They want a serious discussion about art and art themes:

“I learnt about the meanings behind the symbols in the paintings, I liked learning facts.”

“I enjoyed finding out about the context this painting, of when it was painted. I enjoyed this bit (titled ‘Talking Points’) because it made me look more closely at the artwork than I would otherwise. I didn’t write down the answers but I just discussed it with my Mum and Sister and it really made us think.”

There are also suggested extended activities on developing practical art ideas back at home (titled ‘Back in your studio’). Young people are also offered the space to review an art work as if they are writing an article for an artsblog:

“The back in your studio section was very creative and intriguing – definitely an activity that appeals to me.”

“The best activity in my opinion, a chance to focus on one thing and bring the art into perspective.”

The young people commented that some of the activities were too young or didn’t appeal or would take too long:

“I want it to help my understanding and knowledge.”

Advice on the art themes this age group work on at school was given by artist and Head of Art at Cambridge International School, Lucy Mazur. Lucy directed our attention to specific topic work covered in years 7, 8, 9 and the first year of GCSE. These included human life, religion, abstract form, pattern and texture, nature and symbolism.

But, hey, it’s the summer holiday so there is lots of fun; from creating your own dialogues for characters in the Brueghel, the younger’s painting ‘The Village Festival’ in the form of a graphic novel, to filling a skull template with doodles and words relating to Salavdor Rosa’s large painting depicting ‘Human Frailty’.

A big thank you to the young people at ReSource and Make! for advising us (they were rewarded with lovely sketchbooks) and to their families for their time. And especially to Ayshea Carter, the Fitzwilliam designer, for making these unwieldy A4 trial guides into a clear and stylish finished A5 guide.

To have a go with our new art gallery guides simply ask at the reception desk for a gallery guide plus the loan of a drawing kit and have fun investigating art!