LOOK! (Pier Arts Centre, Orkney)


LOOK! was developed as an enterprise project for primary one pupils and was designed to introduce pupils to a creative environment and to help them understand and apply enterprising skills. Over several months during 2007/2008, 20 pupils from Class 1 at Dounby primary school were involved in researching all aspects of the Pier Arts Centre’s activity. They examined the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of running an Arts Centre and were direct involved in curating and marketing their own exhibition and organising a preview event for parents at the gallery.

LOOK! involved:

  • – 20 P1 pupils from Dounby primary school
  • – 3 teachers (a head teacher, a visiting specialist and the class teachers)
  • – All of the Pier Arts Centre Gallery staff
  • – Scottish Arts Council funded trainee education worker
  • – Parents and families
  • – P1 pupils from Stromness primary school


The aim was to provide a practical and active learning experience in a non-school environment.

LOOK! was developed by the Arts Centre Education staff in collaboration with Dounby Primary school for the following reasons:

  • To support schools provide creative and imaginative learning in partnership
  • To develop a strong relationship between Orkeny island Council and the Arts centre
  • To engage young parents in a rural community with the schools and the arts centre
  • To demonstrate the role the visual arts have in the delivery of other curriculum areas besides the expressive arts.

It was also intended for the pupils to develop an understanding of what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ at an art gallery and for them to know and understand the various jobs that are undertaken by gallery staff. Children took on and delivered these tasks themselves in a practical and real working environment with gallery professionals


The challenges delivering the project were mainly to do with working with such a young age group and how the staff engaged the children with the complex organisational structure of the Arts Centre. A good deal of support was given to teachers and children helping them to understand the process and integrate the ideas. They also provided support in helping the children make critical decisions and select the artwork for the exhibition.

Other challenges were:

  • – practical transport issues
  • – managing a large number of young children in the gallery
  • – the amount of arts centre staff time
  • – ensuring active engagement with the project

All these were overcome by planning and evaluating in partnership as the project evolved and by involving teachers, parents, the trainee education worker at the gallery, visiting specialist teacher and support staff.


The pupils have made many return visits to the gallery, giving their friends and families ‘tours’ of the artwork especially the permanent collection housed at the gallery

The ‘preview’ event allowed for teachers to meet parents in an informal occasion – especially some who had been difficult to encourage into the school environment



  • – The Pier Arts Centre
  • – Dounby Primary School
  • – Orkney Island Council

Levels and stages:

  • – Early
  • – P1


  • – Pier Arts Centre core budget

For more information contact:

Carol Dunbar, Education Office, The Pier Arts Centre on 01856 859 209 or email carol.dunbar@pierartscentre.com

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