First of all I would ask you to visualise two works of art.
Rice River, by Rosie Flannigan, is a four by five foot canvas covered in rice, showing a curve of white rice with a dark shore outlined against a background of rice painted black. It is tranquil and absorbing.
9.11, by Jodie Fraser, is six foot square, made with over three thousand burnt match-sticks, one for each person who died in the attack on the Twin Towers, scattered over the canvas and clouded over with pale blue and grey.
The second was exhibited at Tate Modern in 2003. Both have frequently been taken for the work of adult artists, but when they were painted Jodie was eleven years old and Rosie was ten.
What age can you start being an artist? is a half-hour TV programme, broadcast on Channel 4 in 2004 and short-listed for the Grierson award for the best documentary on the arts. It was made by the above-mentioned Rosie Flannigan and her friend Ami Cameron, who were provided with equipment and professional advice from Emma Davie, a Channel 4 representative. Emma was police checked so she could accompany the children out of school during school time and she taught them the art of film editing, but otherwise left them to their own devices.
Jodie, Rosie and Ami were at Caol Primary School, just outside Fort William. They are not the only children from the school with such astonishing achievements. The corridors are lined with fine works of art. On the wall in the art studio there are two CVs. The one for Danielle Souness, born in 1992, reads:
Danielle Souness (1992 - )
Artist in Residence posts:
- 2004 to present Lochaber High School Room 13
- 2005 Museum of Modern Art Dublin
- 2002 Collaborative Project with Peter Haining. West Highland Museum
- 2002 Two woman show (with Jodie Fraser) West Highland Museum
- 2002 Barbie prize. Royal College of Art. London
- 2003 One Woman Show. West Highland Museum
- Artworks. Tate Modern. London
- 2004 Kingly Court Gallery, London
- 2005 Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
- 1999 Scottish Contemporary Art 1 (including Paolozzi, Morroco, Knox etc) in Caol Primary School Gallery
- 2000 Scottish Contemporary Art 2 in Caol Primary School Gallery
- 2001 Peter Haining 'Recent Drawings' from the Museum of Modern Art in Ireland, in Caol Primary School Gallery.
- 2002 Room 13 Studio Retrospective in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and the West Highland Museum, Fort William
- 2002 Co-curated Thirteen Hands Crafts Exhibition. To tour Britain until 2004
- Art Education: exploration in identity, power and regulation to be published in 2004 edited by Dennis Atkinson / Paul Dash
- 'What Age Can You Start Being An Artist'? West Highland Museum 2003
- Young Art Lucy Sweet Sunday Times 17th Nov 2002
- John Innes Scotsman 6th Dec 2002
- Young Masters Craig Mclean Telegraph Magazine 8th March 2003
- Kids stay in the Picture Waldemar Januszcak Sunday Times July 13th 2003
- Director of 'What Age Can You Start Being An Artist?' a Room13/ZCZ production for Channel 4, January 2004. Short-listed for a Grierson Award in the category for best Arts documentary 2004.
- Delegate at the NCA/NUT conference Creativity in Education. Tate Gallery. London. July 2002
- Delegate at Children in Scotland's conference. Young People in Management. Stirling Sept 2002
- Delegate at Hi Arts conference Fort William, June 2003
- Delegate 'Creative Heads' conference, Dartington Hall, Creative Partnerships, December 2003
- Delegate at International Democratic Education Conference, Bhubaneswar, December 2004
All this activity springs from Room 13, the independent art room tucked away at one end of the top floor of the school.