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Rachel's Summer School Experience

Posted: September 28th 2006
 
 In August, I was fortunate enough to travel to London for two weeks to take part in an intensive Summer Carnival Mas Camp with Kinetika Arts Link International, which is a London based community arts organisation.
 
This opportunity arose because I am a member of UCTC's art group Spiritus! I have been with the group since it began in 2003, and have even travelled to Ghana to experience a different way of life. Therefore, when I was offered the placement at Kinetika for two weeks as part of the production team I was delighted and honoured  I was given travel funding from the arts group Same Sky in Brighton. The involvement at the Mas Camp was incredible in terms of developing my art skills, as I am an A-level student, but also I formed good friendships with artists from all over the country who shared stories about their experiences in life. I felt great to be able to tell them that at 17 years old I had been to Ghana ( and actually am going again in 2007) and had been part of many London based festivals! How lucky I am.
 
The theme, named 'Roads to freedom', is a three year project, which enables the artist to explore the meanings of freedom and to portray this through a series of character puppets and costume. Spiritus , this year was chosen to represent the planter section, through the idea of slavery and cotton plantations. UCTC held its own 2-week Summer School later on in August ("Building the Imagination"), ran by Clare Summons, which I was invited to help with, because the techniques that I had learnt at London would now be vital in helping with costumes on a smaller scale. I taught some younger students how to screen print using screens with designs of packaged logo's that reflected the meaning of unfair trade.
 
Not only was the Summer School at UCTC full of budding young makers, but also 20 dancers and a team of lively drummers to bring our performance together. Two weeks later of practising meant that the 'Building The imagination' first appearance was at the Uckfield Carnival at the beginning of September. It was a rainy evening...but even better than this was our performance as part of the Mayor's Thames Festival, London on September 17th. The excitement was at an all time high as students as young as eleven found themselves part of something special. They were representing our town; the hard work at the Summer School had paid off...everyone was tired but the rewards were fantastic.
 
I felt privileged to be able to transfer skills that I had learnt to people of a younger age, and to experience life in a capital - by just doing things that I love! Bringing the techniques back with me felt great, and to know that it is all part of Kinetika's theme makes me feel as if it is all worthwhile! The main thanks needs to go to Spiritus and its ongoing development, because if it hadn't evolved in the first place then I wouldn't be where I am today. I think it's important to experience not only art in the classroom, but also on a wider scale, with the experiences themselves really counting for something. 
 
Rachel West
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