From the outside. One parent’s experience

Shaftesbury Nursery School in Belfast has been hosting special Stay and Play art sessions thanks to Cultural for All Funding which awarded them £10,000 to engage in cross community work across two socially deprived areas in the Shankhill and Falls.

Charcoal drawing of woman
An artist’s drawing of Victoria Verner during Stay and Play workshops

Here, one mum-of-three, Victoria Verner, a funding officer with the Big Lottery Fund, takes a look at nursery school life and our funding from the other side – a parent’s experience.

“Lily, 4, had been begging me to come to one of her Nursery School stay and play sessions for weeks, so finally one rare Monday afternoon off work I decided to go and indulge in some messy art activities.

At the time I hadn’t realised it was a stay and play art session with the nursery school artist David and the session was part of a Culture for All funded project.

The sessions were brilliant – all about exploring self image, self portraits and using modelling clay. I think I may have a little artist in the making and Lily absolutely loved it.

In the first session Lily made a 3d model of herself, using clay. She had such a good time I took the following Monday afternoon off again so we could go back and finish off painting her model. Lily’s love of pink was on show throughout this whole project as she then painted herself like her perfectly pink hero, Peppa Pig. Then using a mirror painted her face onto a picture, which was her very first self-portrait.

The project was a great opportunity for me to spend quality time with my daughter and make a creative mess/ art masterpiece (with the added bonus of not having to clean up myself!!)

An artist's drawing in charcoal of Lily
An artist’s drawing in charcoal of Lily

David was fantastic with all the children and engaged them at their level. Lily loved the sessions and now likes to paint herself on a regular basis, and I mean – paint herself.

Other elements of the project included music and photography workshops and working with St Paters Nursery School, Falls Road, Belfast. The project also had its own exhibition in the MAC which had a fantastic turnout, with all the children’s and parents work on display.

An all round brilliant project for children and their parents and my first opportunity to experience hands on what our funding can do.”

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