Over 1,000 children and young people reached by Our Biennale sending artists to work in schools and colleges in Kirklees

Over 1,000 children and young people across Kirklees have been reached thanks to Our Biennale. The brand-new arts and cultural festival saw Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Musica Kirklees, Chol Theatre, Manasamitra, The Children’s Art School and independent artists working in 17 schools and colleges. Exhibitions and performances based on the festival’s theme of darkness and light will take place at various venues in Kirklees to celebrate the remarkable work created by the students.

The Children’s Art School has worked with 330 children to create Our Darkness and Light Animation. Marsden Infant and Nursery, Birkby Juniors, Hillside Primary and Holmfirth Junior School developed poems with poet Louise Fazackerley. The poems were used as inspiration at Almondbury Community School where a group of Year 7-11s explored animation with animator Rozi Fuller and created storyboards. Musician Charlotte Watson worked with children at Holmfirth to turn their poems into songs to be used as the soundtrack and sound artist James Mabbett recorded the children performing the songs using the new Holmfirth Tech as a recording studio for the day.

“The children enjoyed the fact that the very first moving images in the world were created right here in Kirklees – at Bamforths, Holmfirth!” Chloe Williams of The Children’s Art School says, “This project has been truly collaborative: between poet, artist, animator, musicians, and the children and young people. We can’t wait to see and hear the animation when it is finished.”

 At Huddersfield New College, art and design and dance students have collaborated with Phoenix Dance and artist Zoe Robertson on Our Biennale’s Transformation project. “It was exciting to work with these talented students whose dedication and determination really impressed me,” says Zoe, “They had to tackle complex problem solving, challenge their preconceptions and work in ways they have not experienced before. They created wearable art for the dance students to bring to life by choreographed movement, for an exciting performance and exhibition as part of Our Biennale.”

Dewsbury-based Manasamitra, composer Duncan Chapman, and children and parents from Pentlands Infant and Nursery School have been working on a project that draws inspiration from the night sky. In Dark Skies they have created a soundscape that imagines the sounds of our solar system, which will be performed at Dewsbury Museum on 10th November. “Poetry, music and movements inspired by the vistas of the night skies will take centre stage at this North Kirklees Biennale event.” Supriya Nagarajan, Manasamitra’s Artistic Director explains. “This is part of our larger music composition project and is part of our Look Up Not Down campaign. We’re going back to the basics and looking to the skies for information and knowledge.”

 15-year-old work experience student from North Halifax Grammar School, Gala Baldacci, worked with Huddersfield-based Chol Theatre on its residency at the North Huddersfield Trust School. Gala helped with a dance piece for Romeo and Juliet: “It was incredibly interesting to see their use of levels and different styles of dance, with different groups choreographing their own short pieces to be incorporated in the larger piece later on,” says Gala. “It was, overall, an incredibly enriching experience for all involved and I can’t wait to see their performance on 19th November at Lawrence Batley Theatre, with extracts being performed at the Biennale Finale on 20th November.”

 Pupils from Honley Junior School, Netherthong Primary School, Farnley Tyas First School, Scholes Primary School, Royds Hall Community School and Holme Primary School have produced 100 large-scale paintings for The Great Kirklees Railway Exhibition. All the paintings are exhibited on the platforms at train stations along the Penistone Line and at Huddersfield Train Station. Working with writer and storyteller Matthew Bellwood and Chloe Williams from The Children’s Art School, they created poetry and paintings by delving into the local history linked to the railways, geography, landscape and the myths and legends of the dragon at Castle Hill. Year 3 pupils at Scholes Primary said, “I really loved our tremendous painting, I am very excited for it to be up at the train station” and “The poetry was fantastic because all of our ideas can make a masterpiece.”

 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival delivered radio podcasting and DJ workshops via a mobile radio set up in a campervan. Upper Batley High School, Huddersfield Library, Dewsbury Library and The Greenwood Centre, Ravensthorpe have all been destinations for the Campervan Radio, creating opportunities for young people to have a go at radio production and being DJs.

Thanks to Musica Kirklees young musicians will unite to present an exciting evening of music with Untroubled Light // Melt. Led by acclaimed classical guitarist Craig Ogden, schools and orchestras from across the region have been invited to perform two new compositions by Eleanor Cully and Callum Dewar on Tuesday 20th November. With guitars at the fore of the performance, Ogden is joined by Musica Youth Orchestra, Massed Guitars from Musica Kirklees, Calderdale Music Trust, and three ukulele groups from local primary schools.

A preview of Our Darkness and Light Animation and a performance of Transformation will be on Saturday 10th November at Our Biennale’s Big Draw and Play Day at Huddersfield Library.

The Biennale Finale will be a celebration of what has been achieved as the festival comes to a close. On Tuesday 20th November at Huddersfield Town Hall, there will be performances by Musica Kirklees Youth Orchestra, Meltham Primary School, North Huddersfield Trust School, Ravenshall School, and young guitarists and ukulele players from across Kirklees and Calderdale, with special guest guitarist Craig Ogden.