On the evening of the 4th of December, the Atrium and Café at Wheal Martyn were packed with a bustling crowd, keenly anticipating the start of the performance of the Pit Paper Porcelain production. Nervous children took to their places and cleared their throats in preparation to stun the crowd. After months of work, the time had finally come for the performance!
The evening was a celebration of the work done over a 3 month community project at Wheal Martyn with 98 young people from Roche School, Treverbyn Academy, Brannel School and Kernow Young Carers – young people who have a caring role. The project was delivered in partnership with KEAP Kernow Education Arts Partnership and CMEH Cornwall Music Education Hub.
The overarching aim of Wheal Martyn’s Pit Paper Porcelain programme was to support literacy and creative writing through the arts. The partnership aimed to inspire both teachers and children; to bring new ways of working with words; to bring professional writers and musicians into schools and to give the children a reason to write and an audience for their work.
Early in the autumn, the schools and groups visited Wheal Martyn and experienced the beauty of the unique setting. With workshops led by the Education Officer, Gemma Martin, and a professional writer, Becca Gregson, the young people explored the woods, peered into the magnificent Pit View and absorbed the atmospheric Victorian clay works. Carefully crafted activities encouraged the young people to develop skills and techniques in creative writing, leading their reader on a fabulous journey into the nooks and crannies of Wheal Martyn.
Through follow up workshops with CMEH musicians Emma Mansfield, Matt Douglas and Rob Moule, the groups used their pieces of creative writing to collaboratively craft a song inspired by their experiences at Wheal Martyn.
The performance raised the roof at Wheal Martyn with a superb evening of spoken word and song. Amanda Harris, Director of KEAP, commented “It was a delightful event and an absolute triumph! The quality of the writing, the composition and performance was just terrific as well as the reaction from parents and teachers, who were delighted. It was really apparent how much the children had taken ownership of their work and felt proud and confident to share.”
Gemma Martin, Education Officer, added ‘it has been a fantastic experience for the young people here tonight. They have grown hugely in confidence through the project, crafting their own fabulous stories into a dazzling performance piece, and knocking the socks off the audience with the sung performance. It just shows how inspiring the local heritage of the Clay Country and Wheal Martyn can be!’
The Wheal Martyn project was funded through Arts Council England and the Cornwall Museums Partnership; Cornwall Community Foundation’s Duchy Benevolent Fund and the kind support of Cornwall Music Education Hub, Action for Children and Kernow Education Arts Partnership.
Gemma Martin, Education Officer, Wheal Martyn Museum
Photo credits: James Stuart