The Art Room Symposium – ‘What Difference Does it Make?’
Our first Symposium was held at St Hugh’s College, Oxford 21 October 2008, attended by 130 professionals who work with challenging and vulnerable children and young people.
Chaired by Simon Richey from the Gulbenkian Foundation, speakers included Art Room students; Camila Batmanghelidjh, Kids Company London; Emmanuel Botwe, Advanced Skills Teacher, Oxford School; Eileen Elmitt, Special Education Needs Co-ordinator, Rose Hill Primary School; John Turberville, Director, The Mulberry Bush School; Richard Wentworth, Ruskin Master of Drawing, University of Oxford and Juli Beattie, drector of The Art Room.
The speeches and discussions were very stimulating; especially impressive was the testimony of the Art Room students who spoke about what they had gained from being at The Art Room.
One of the attendees, artist Kassandra Isacsson, said:
"What Difference does it Make? was the central question of The Art Room symposium to which the various speakers, who from a variety of backgrounds and degrees of experience, addressed themselves.
The informative and insightful talks, ranging from descriptions of the toughest inner city models of distress and abused children described in Camila Batmanghelidjh’s presentation of her work with Kid’s Company, to the challenges facing the undergraduates of Oxford’s Ruskin School described by Richard Wentworth, the central questions of creativity, and enablement which The Art Room model provides in its context, were exciting as well as compelling.
Included in The Art Room’s talk by Juli Beattie, were the statements of three of its former students whose confidence and poise whilst having to speak individually to the entire conference, was remarkable as it was touching. One could hardly believe that these young people had ever had difficulties managing mainstream school, as they spoke so well and with so much confidence and quiet self awareness.
Leaving the conference room and following the path through the adjoining hall, there was a sense of real hope which The Art Room exemplifies, reinforced by the exhibition of beautiful chairs re-worked with painted designs by the children who attend The Art Room."