Art Exchange
Art Exchange

@rt exchange is a Hewlett Packard sponsored initiative the intention of which is to explore the use of digital technology through a sharing of creativity, using art as the language of communication, digital technology as the means, and the internet as the medium.

The @rt exchange initiative is now in it's third year. It has already proved itself an exciting and challenging experiment, and a success beyond expectations.

To date nearly fifty institutions from the UK, France,Spain, Sardinia, and Germany have been involved in the art exchange programme.

Year 1

In the first year of the @rt exchange initiative each of the participating institutions were invited to create art work in response a theme. The themes that included portraiture, hands and feet and circles provided a useful starting point for schools to focus their ideas and to begin the creative process of developing art work that would be shared by pupils in different countries. The resulting work was displayed on the @rtexchange website for all to share.

Year 2

At the end of the first year of the ex-change, in October 2004, there was a conference hosted by schools in Sardinia to which two teachers from each other country were invited. Over two days the teachers discussed their involvement in the project and through interpreters be-gan to discuss how they could visually inform others about the location of the schools to enable the pupils to develop a more informed cultural understanding of each of the com-munities involved in the project. The outcome of the conference was the decision to create works on the theme 'Time and Place' which was considered broad enough to encompass the ideas of al the participating schools.

As a first step in this process each school was invited to create a picture portrait of their location to be shared by all of the participating schools followed by the development of individual pupil ideas on the theme.

The most exciting part of the year two project was to see the different ways in which the theme was interpreted by the different age groups involved. From landscapes and panoramas by primary pupils at (Scoil Iognaid, Galway), how to use digital cameras to capture (Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol) time passing to the creation of a time capsule and city panoramas (Albertus-Magnus-Gymnasium, Germany) the range of outcomes is exciting.

A conference for all involved was held in Galway, Ireland, in October 2005. This gathering reinforced personal connections that had developed during the conference in Sardinia, and it generated a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the exchange, with lots of talk about the possi-bilities of developing and extending the initiative.

During this conference a new theme was chosen; the single word 'Root' (roots or even route) A simple word, but one with a multitude of meanings.

So the coming year of the exchange is set, and we eagerly look forward to a creative and inventive interpretation of this theme, and a developing exchange.

The Exchange

In the third part of the pattern, images, ideas or inspiration is to be taken from the artwork already presented on the site, worked with, and re-posted onto the site under a section la-belled 'exch@nge'. This part of the process is currently ongoing.

A new website is now under construction that will enable participating school to upload their own images and a forum is being created so that everyone involved is sent an e-mail letting them know when messages or new work is posted.

Much of the creative work already on the art exchange site is very exciting, there are already many very creative ideas. To this extent @rtexchange has already been a great success. All the participants have had the opportunity to see their work in the context of work produced by others, and to share ideas and experience. The initiative has also proved an excellent in-cubator for ideas in the creative use of computer and internet technology.

Sadly the funding that the initiative has been receiving from Hewlett Packard comes to an end this year, so unless we can find other sources of funding there is unlikely to be further actual conferences, but it is hoped that the web site will continue to grow, and that more and more schools will wish to join in.

Interest has already been expressed by schools as far flung as Japan, Mexico, India and South Africa. The power of the internet for communication is really the essence of the pro-ject, to have involvement from all over the world is a very exciting possibility.

If you are interested in finding out more about @rtexchange contact:

Ross Wallis, Head of Art, Sidcot School, Somerset