Duchess of Cambridge Meets Grayson Perry In The Art Room

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry visited the newly-launched Clore Art Room at Barlby School in Ladbroke Grove yesterday. As Royal Patrons to the charity, the visit marks the official naming of this, the ninth Art Room and celebrate the partnership with the Clore Duffield Foundation whose generous support has facilitated this important new early intervention provision for West London. During her visit, The Duchess of Cambridge will be welcomed by students and speak with children who attend The Art Room. HRH The Duchess of Cambridge will also join a round-table discussion with education professionals, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dame Vivien Duffield, Chair of the Clore Duffield Foundation, and our Patron, Grayson Perry.

The Clore Art Room at Barlby Primary School is the apex of sustained support from The Clore Duffield Foundation for this national charity offering art as a therapeutic intervention to children aged 5 – 16 years old. Founded in 1964, the Foundation has focused on funding educational spaces within cultural organisations including museums, heritage institutions and galleries. The Foundation has supported The Art Room since 2005 and is funding this new Art Room studio in Barlby Primary School in celebration of its 50th year in 2014.

During the afternoon visit, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge will meet students of Barlby Primary School and Oxford Gardens Primary School. Following a short speech by Anthony Mannix, Head Teacher, and Juli Beattie, Founder Director of The Art Room, HRH will be invited to mark the occasion and ‘name’ the new Room with fellow honored guests Dame Vivien and Grayson Perry. The Duchess will then join a round-table discussion exploring the power of art as a therapeutic intervention and the ways in which children learn and achieve through art.

The Clore Art Room offers therapeutic support to pupils of Barlby School and neighboring Oxford Gardens School. Open 5 days a week, its highly trained practitioners work with small groups of children aged between five and 11 years old in 1 hour 45 minute sessions. Each week, up to 104 children are able to access the Art Room’s methodology in sessions designed to provide students with confidence, self-esteem and independence through creativity and self-expression. From September 2015, The Clore Art Room hopes to extend the provision of this unique intervention to other Primary and Secondary Schools in the Borough.

There are many reasons why children are referred to The Art Room and why they need time away from their mainstream classrooms. Referrals made by teachers, parents and social workers or other professionals working with children might include cases of children suffering bereavement, family breakdown or chaotic home life, living with violence or abuse, on the autistic spectrum, or newly arrived in the UK. During their time in The Art Room, it is hoped that children will be able to open up and express their anxieties or needs and ultimately deal better with the difficulties they face. One child said of their time at the Clore Art Room “I look forward to visiting The Art Room. It’s like having a special thinking space. Painting makes me feel good and I feel in a better mood afterwards.” Year 5 student, Barlby School

The Clore Art Room at Barlby Primary School is one of a number of therapeutic interventions offered at the School which also hosts The Orchard, a specialist provision for children with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). Anthony Mannix, Head Teacher says on the opening of the new Art Room “It is extremely exciting to be able to host HRH The Duchess of Cambridge as we can proudly introduce her to our children and show her the school and our ethos. Since opening The Art Room in October, we have been overwhelmed with the positive addition it has brought to the children. We are delighted to be working with The Art Room as it further promotes our policy of inclusion and the nurture of life-long learning for every child.”

The visit by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge to this new Art Room comes at an important time for the charity and represents a successful working partnership between a philanthropic organisation, a host school and The Art Room. Juli Beattie, Founder Director says of the occasion “The Clore Art Room highlights the impact of The Clore Duffield Foundation’s sustained and loyal support of our work. Through their generous provision, we have been fortunate to establish a relationship with Barlby and Oxford Garden Schools, two inspirational schools. We are so delighted to be able to show HRH The Duchess of Cambridge the new studio. Her interest and understanding in all that we do has been instrumental to the charity over the last few years. We are constantly looking to maximize the impact of our early intervention and this model helps us achieve this. The round-table discussion will explore the impact The Art Room has using art as therapy.”

The new studio represents the growth of The Art Room’s reach as it now has nine Art Rooms based in schools in Oxfordshire, London and Edinburgh. In addition to the host school, children from neighbouring schools are referred there for sessions and we currently support ten schools in London. The room is designed in keeping with the Art Room methodology with sofas where pupils relax and talk, tables where art projects are created and a communal area for sharing food. The children will work on art projects transforming everyday items such as chairs, lampshades, trays, aprons and clocks, and are thereby introduced to a sense of empowerment through transforming ordinary objects into something individual and creative.

The methodology and practice of The Art Room is recognized for its effectiveness, partly through constant evaluation. Our work with children was recently the subject of a quantitative evaluation by Dr Melissa Cortina entitled The Art Room: An Evaluation Of A Targeted School-based Group Intervention For Students With Emotional And Behavioural Difficulties. This will soon be published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, an international journal in the fields of mental health and education. Its conclusion is that Art Room sessions significantly reduce children’s emotional and behavioral problems, especially within their peer group, and also improve their pro-social behavior. Children who had clinical levels of difficulties at the start of their sessions showed a 87.5% improvement in their self-reported mood and self-esteem following participation in The Art Room.


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