Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since September, you may well have noticed that something special has been going on in Kirklees. ‘Our Biennale’ is the second biennale festival held by Kirklees with the first, unsurprisingly, being in 2018 (a biennale is an event that happens every two years).
Whilst many areas across the country hold their own biennale every two years, there aren’t any others that are specifically for children and young people. With this in mind, organisers aimed to celebrate the creativity of children and young people and highlight the importance of the arts within education at a time when art is often pushed to one side in favour of more academic topics like maths and science.
In our area, we are blessed with a wide array of organisations and charities as well as artists across many disciplines including textiles, music and photography. The biennale brought them together in 2018 and has done so again despite the constraints of the covid-19 pandemic.
The Kirklees Local Cultural Education Partnership, EvoKe, are behind the organisation of Our Biennale, along with many other organisations across the borough including WOVEN in Kirklees (which runs until June 27th).
This weekend brings the finale of Our Biennale with a busy timetable of displays, exhibits, workshops and activities, and Huddersfield Times was invited to a preview on the eve of the finale! Cleverly using empty retail space at the Piazza in Huddersfield town centre, 6 different units house exhibits including sculptures, soundscapes, sound walks, film and dance. Every single exhibit has been made by children and young people across Kirklees working together with local organisations and artists, and this artistic outlet has come at a wonderful time to support them through the turbulent year they have faced. Covid-19 and lockdowns have been a major influence on the artistic outcomes of many of the pieces, and the project has clearly given the participants another tool to work through their emotions and feelings about it all, through the medium of art.
The ‘Moulding Memories’ exhibition will be of particular importance as it focuses on the experiences of the younger generation living through a pandemic. “Nearly 2,000 children have shared their feelings about the past year in hundreds of drawings and poetry pieces,” explains Director of Our Biennale Chloe Williams. “These have then been pulped and created into blocks using moulds. A large sculpture has been created encompassing blocks from every participating school, each one a personal captured moment of this time whilst also reflecting the universal experience of children throughout the last year.”
Another message that Chloe felt was important to impress upon the youngsters was that they themselves can alter their environment and make a change to the place where they live through art.
We were honoured to attend the preview evening and absolutely blown away by the depth and scale of the whole project. Seeing so many pieces of art created by our children and young people, made in so many different ways, was a breath of fresh air at a time when we are, hopefully, heading for better days.
The finale will be open to the public from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday. If you can’t get into town, don’t worry, you can access all of the exhibits online at https://finale.ourbiennale.org/
With arts organisations: Chol Theatre, The Children’s Art School, Musica Kirklees, WOVEN, hcmf//, Jane Howroyd (Arts 4 All), Lawrence Batley Theatre, Lucie MacGregor, School’s Out, Ruth Dyer, Toria Garbutt, Yorkshire Sound Women Network, Manasamitra, Parley, West Yorkshire Print Workshop, Kirklees Culture Declares, Kirklees Museums, and Creative Scene