Young artists feature in new exhibition

21 July 2021

Young artists feature in new exhibition

An exhibition of automata created by young artists, with the support of artist Martin Smith, has been unveiled at The Portland Collection museum at Welbeck.

Inspired by their experiences of the pandemic, students at Southwell Minster School have created moving machines that include a flying mouse, a tunnel digging machine, and a flying bicycle.

The Flying Free project - a collaboration between Nottinghamshire County Council and The Harley Gallery - was designed specifically to help the children express their experiences of the pandemic. They created their own story and then invented a machine to help them fly away.

Martin, who has exhibited automata and mechanical sculptures across the country, led the students through the design and making process. He worked closely with Dr Petula Bhowjani, Literary Consultant, and Craig Wilkie, Digital Learning Consultant for Nottinghamshire County Council. 

The children were given the chance to learn about inventions and automata through online sessions, delivered by Martin. He also created toolkits, which were sent to the school prior to each lesson.

The project was funded by The Mighty Creatives and Children in Need and was inspired by an award-winning literacy programme devised by Petula and Craig at The Harley Gallery in 2019.

Speaking about the project, Education and Engagement Manager, Dayle Green said: “It’s been an interesting project as it started during a time when we were all in lockdown and this was The Harley Gallery’s first ever virtual workshop. It has been a really exciting project and gave the children the chance to learn new creative skills, experience working with an artist and express their views and feelings during a challenging time.”

“We’re delighted to have worked once again with Petula Bhojwani and Craig Wilkie and with Martin Smith, who has previously exhibited his art within The Harley Gallery.”

  • Special thanks go to all the teaching staff for supporting the young people throughout the project, and to Martin Smith for his generosity in developing the toolkits that he sent to each student.