Example 1 Rebecca

Artist Feature: Mentee Blog (Rebecca Prentice)

I started volunteering at Moray Art Centre in April 2011, helping and taking part in Arts Award and occasionally volunteering with events.  It was through the Exhibitions and Education Manager that I first heard about, and was encouraged to do, the Artist Mentor Programme.

Since graduating from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2009, I have found it difficult to find employment, let alone a job that is creative or art related.  Like most Painting and Drawing graduates, I knew the job market was tough and it would not be easy balancing a full time job with my artistic practice.  I see the Artist Mentor programme as a way of learning from local creative professionals and founding a professional portfolio to build up from.  My main aim for the programme is to explore the basis and practicalities of my creative art practice in helping the community and to develop routes in which I can create long lasting relationships for future career prospects.

The first meeting we had for the Artist Mentor Programme took place at a Creative Learning Network event.  As a starting point, I felt we were eased into the programme and I did not feel too overwhelmed.  At this particular meeting, there was a guest speaker who had come to introduce and discuss the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.  This was beneficial as I had very little knowledge of the new curriculum and the changes it entailed within Scottish education.  We heard from teachers, who are also CLN members, how art has a good part to play within the diverse way of learning of Curriculum for Excellence, and the new opportunities it could create.

For the Artist Mentor Programme, I was paired with art teacher Iris Wright.  We scheduled our first meeting as an informal chat, where I found we had many things in common as Iris also attended Edinburgh College of Art and I’m currently considering secondary school art teaching as a career.  At the next Creative Learning Network Event, I acquired my second mentor Susie Burchell.  Susie works with Iris as a secondary school art teacher but is also Principal art teacher at Milnes High.  This was great as it meant I had two individuals to gain advice from, and two teaching styles that I could learn from.

The Principles and Practice of Youth Work course has been very beneficial.  It helped me realise where to start when working with young people.  We looked at what makes a good youth worker and how to prepare ourselves for working with young people.  I learned the practicalities of preparing a series of workshops, from who needs to be there to how to develop learning outcomes.  We had specialised sessions discussing Curriculum for Excellence, Child Protection, and literacy.  There were other youth workers attending the training sessions, from Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme to the Elgin Youth Cafe, which meant we could learn from others’ experiences.  I found my confidence built up over the course, and I found the advice and preparation is helping my involvement with a local youth group as well as for the workshops I will take through Artist Mentor Programme.

Last week I joined the other mentees in Edinburgh to attend a day workshop on applications for funding and grants.  It was very useful at breaking down preconceptions of the people who read funding applications and decide whether to award them.  It taught me how to make a strong application and where to start.  We were given a handout of the presentation and I took down a lot of notes to help and remind me when I make a funding application.  When I saw how methodical an application is, I felt less intimidated by it, and more confident that finding funding and grants could be achievable.  Even though it was directed at making applications for arts funding, I found it useful for analysing how to communicate an idea and project to people, and simply how to create a strong application for anything.  The workshop taught me the value of organisation behind an arts project and how to see it as part of a bigger picture.

The Artist Mentor Programme is becoming quite exciting as ideas are being generated for the workshops I am due to take.  I am glad I have mentors to talk to and run ideas passed to make things work.  I value their advice and I am grateful for their time helping me.  I learnt to learn from all sorts of people along the way of Artist Mentor Programme, whether the youth workers from Principles and Practice of Youth Work course, the people attending CLN events or from my mentors.  My fellow mentees and I are looking to collaborate on an exhibition showing our work and what we have achieved and learnt through Artist Mentor Programme.  We are also due to do First Aid Training and possibly a visit through to the Aberdeen University Library gallery.

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