C.A.S.T Academy – A Journey Of Creativity

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Young people with special educational needs and disabilities have recently been taking part in – and engaging with – an invigorating and creative project which sees the young people working alongside professional artists and tutors to create pieces of art which will be showcased in an exhibition in the Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd, in 2014. The project is between three special schools and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Services For Young People.

Wicid went to the YMCA in Pontypridd, one Tuesday morning, to see for ourselves the stimulating work that was going on.

Vibrant colours were used for painting and all the young people engaged with the colour scheme and used bright colours to express their emotions. Will, from Park Lane Special School, was painting the background to an exhibition piece and said that, he “loves painting with all the colours and is really looking forward to the exhibition.” Charlotte Jones, the art tutor who works with the young people, specialises in silk painting and glass painting – and her enthusiasm encourages the young people to be as creative as they want.

Emily, also from Park Lane Special School, really enjoyed working on her silk painting. She said she “has great fun painting on all the fabrics and wax.” The wax effect on the paintings is a process known as batik, which all the young people evidently take great pride in, and have great fun creating their batik pieces of art. Emily also said that she “likes it [the art process] very much, especially how the fabric soaks up all the colours.” 

You could say that the fabric soaks up the colours just like the sessions soak up all the creativity of the young people involved.

The young people work closely together to achieve results, and this becomes clearly evident when you see a group working on the creation of an elephant made out of polystyrene, cardboard tubes and sellotape. The young people all take part in making the elephant and every single one was deep in concentration – determined to do their part during the creation process.

Pupils from Ysgol Hen Felin were drawing on – and creating – zebra masks. Different materials were used for the masks, all of them with individual and separate markings, which could be seen as the young peoples’ personalities coming through into their own pieces of art. Adam, from Ysgol Hen Felin told us that he enjoys taking part so much he “doesn’t want a break.”

Rhiannon Gray, visual art lead who’s based in the Penrhys Partnership, got involved in the project through arts-based workshops and project work. She got involved in the first year of the project and this is now her third year. She said that “each tutor involved in the project has their own disciplines but each tutor allows young people to express freedom and creativity.” Rhiannon said her own process involves “taking risk and adding a bit of danger into each piece of art.” The danger being the complete freedom of expression.

The process is between young people, tutors and youth workers and is a stimulating, creative experience for all involved. As well as developing artistic flair, the young people learn the history behind art and techniques.

Rhiannon said that “it’s the best year yet and the most exciting.” She takes pride in the project – and rightly so.

It’s so rewarding to see the young people helping each other out, developing their inter-personal skills week by week which allows the whole process to grow and develop.

This project is fulfilling and gratifying to see. The young people unmistakably enjoy the whole process and the exhibition will be something that can’t be missed for sure.

Related Article: C.A.S.T Academy Takes Young People On A Journey Of Creativity

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