Biennale case study: Dark Skies Project – Pentland Infant and Nursery School and Manasamitra

‘Dark Skies’ brighten days for Pentland Infant and Nursery School children! Families share a unique and exciting twilight music, dance and visual art experience in Crow Nest park, working alongside professional musicians from Manasamitra.

‘I liked that part on Saturday when we went to the park because I saw all my friends around. I liked Supriya’s song – the Taamil song.’ (H aged 5)

Dark Skies Project:

Following a visit by a mobile planetarium to school, the children became fascinated by the topic of Space. They became engrossed in finding out facts and were seeking information to broad and deep questions about the sky and planets above. This natural curiosity was used as the basis for a creative journey stimulated by the idea of dark skies and the sounds that may be attached to space. Pentland have a long-standing relationship with the arts company, Manasamitra, and it seemed a natural step to work together on this project.

Duncan Chapman, a professional musician, came into school to work alongside the children to explore the sounds that a range of instruments made. They then transferred this knowledge and their own natural voice range to their interpretations of what planets, stars – and even aliens – might sound like. Supriya Nagarajan then moved the creative learning forward by exploring movement to accompany the sounds, using Bollywood and Indian dance movements as the basis of expression. This all culminated in a wonderful performance for families held at dusk in Crow Nest Park. The session began with a ‘Big Draw’ session, where parents and children contributed to large scale drawings and paintings and was followed, when darkness began to fall, by a wonderful child-centred performance of music, singing and hand dance movements.

Impact:

The musical side of the Dark Skies project has had a lasting effect on the children. They are now exploring instruments more independently and creatively.

Their sense of hearing has been fine-tuned, with them now recognising and appreciating the range of different sounds that they hear, including sounds within nature that perhaps would have been lost before.
Working alongside the musician has empowered the teachers to experiment more with music teaching and has enhanced their expectations of the skills and knowledge children can achieve at such a young age.

Pentland has been on a journey of involvement in the creative arts; this project took us one step further.

The reach out to parents was just lovely to see. The whole community celebrating the children’s achievement was a powerful feeling and added an immense feeling of joy to the event.

The event helped to further secure an appreciation, within a wider audience, of the power of arts on children’s learning and emotional well-being. The looks of joy and pride on the children’s faces and their feeling of self-esteem shone through the children’s engagement and performance on the day.

It has left us wanting more!

“It was fabulous to see all members of the school community, and beyond, taking part in the pavement art and thoroughly enjoying the musical performance. The look of wonder and enjoyment on children’s faces was a picture. It was great to see the range of ages attending together – from babies to grandparents and indeed great grandparents – sharing the lovely environment and musical experience.”