By Helen Clarke
Last week, Manchester Metropolitan University (Manchester Met) hosted the Out of Schools exhibition at the Manchester School of Art. Out of Schools has been running for more than nine years and it aims to celebrate the creative achievements of young people in different schools and bring them together for a collaborative showcase. This year’s exhibition centered around the peppered moth and its need to adapt according to its environment in order to camouflage itself. The Peppered Moth idea allows for young people to not only be educated about biology but also to engage with the arts simultaneously.
This year, Manchester has been chosen as the European City of Science, a platform which celebrates Manchester’s huge science heritage. The Peppered Moth project has been inspired by this and links Manchester Museum and Arts and Sciences at Manchester Met University and the Manchester Children’s Book Festival. A cross-curricular schools resource, jointly produced by these partners and free to download by teachers.
The Out of Schools exhibition where the public can not only view young people’s work but also take part in workshops and creative activities taking place in the School of Art building all day. At the event, there were various interpretations of the peppered moth brief for the public to see including ceramic tiles of moth images, small glass boxes each with a delicate moth design inside and a 3D model of a tree of peppered moths blending their colours together. Humanity Hallows even had a chance to take part and make our own peppered moth as part of a collage!
Humanity Hallows spoke to Outreach Coordinator for the Manchester School of Art Elle Simms, about what the aims of the Out of Schools program. She told us, “Out of Schools and Young Creatives work with Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Let In The Stars and the Poetry Together Competition to come together and celebrate young people’s work. This year we wanted to change the brief to young people outside of school and broaden the spectrum so that there is something for everyone.”
Among other activities available was a typewriter exhibit displayed all week by Martin Kratz from the Peppered Moth Project. Martin is an associate lecturer in English at Manchester Met and works with the Poetry Together competition as a guest poet. He told Humanity Hallows, “I decided to display large images of the two moths both peppered and black and invite people to type their own description of the moth into the typewriter. As people have been typing about the moth all week, I used the same ream of paper to overlap the text so the words overlap and create the moth effect. That way it is a creative effort and it means we are writing poems together.”
As well as the chance to create moth poetry and to make their own moth out of materials, visitors could also paint pictures, sew, draw, model and use any of the resources set out to create their own interpretation of the peppered moth.
Among the volunteers helping out on the day was third year 3D arts student, Leanne. She told Humanity Hallows why the exhibition and its theme was so important: “It helps to raise awareness about all species that need protecting and it’s a chance to play, experiment and try new things.”
Also sharing this view was Elle’s colleague, Anna, who said, “We want to represent what is available at university and invite people who wouldn’t normally come to the Manchester School of Art. Young people get the chance to have their work displayed in a professional setting and we can break down some of the physical and mental barriers of coming to university so they feel comfortable here and have a sense of ownership over the space.”
The Poetry Together competition deadline is April 29th and there is a chance to win £500 worth of book vouchers. For more information, click here.
The Manchester Children’s Book Festival runs from 24th June – 3rd July with a fantastic, free Family Fun Day taking place on Saturday 25th Juneand a free Young Adult day on Saturday 2nd July. For a full programme of events, visit the Festival website