YAHLs and Conrad Shawcross at the Harbour
Show image caption The Young Arts and Heritage Leaders and artist Conrad Shawcross at Ramsgate Harbour.

Pioneering Places

Schools project • 2018 - 2022

About Pioneering Places

Pioneering Places is a multi-year child leadership project enabling children from Ramsgate schools to shape their town for the better.

 Over the course of the project, 60 Young Arts and Heritage Leaders have worked with Turner Contemporary staff, heritage researchers, planners, designers, artists, and a philosopher to research and respond to their town. The children’s work has included recruiting artists and researchers, creating a manual of child-leadership, leading tours of Turner Prize 2019, a gallery takeover day, and an exhibition.

The project has culminated in a major new public artwork for Ramsgate from leading artist Conrad Shawcross, commissioned by the Young Arts and Heritage Leaders and based on their own research and ideas.

The Young Arts and Heritage Leaders

Since 2018, Turner Contemporary have been working with 60 children aged 6 to 12, from two Ramsgate primary schools: Ramsgate Arts Primary School and St Laurence-in-Thanet Church of England Junior Academy. Over 3 years this group of Young Arts and Heritage Leaders have taken part in weekly creative workshops researching, developing, and leading change through the arts in their local town.

I wish I could come to Turner Contemporary every day – I can explore my ideas here! I like making art better than any other subject.

Young Arts and Heritage Leader

Project Highlights:

  • In 2018, the children recruited artists Babalola Yusuf and Sinead Stoddart, and heritage researchers Libby Scarlet and Frank Wasser to work with them on the project.
  • To celebrate Universal Children’s Day 2018 Turner Contemporary held a child-led takeover day as part of Pioneering Places East Kent. The 60 Young Arts and Heritage Leaders directed artists to create their visions for Ramsgate before visitors’ eyes, designed a special menu for the café and built impressive structures using their choice of materials.
  • The Young Arts and Heritage Leaders worked with Turner Prize winning collective Assemble to create a “Child-Led Plan for Ramsgate”.
  • In 2019, the children visited Tate Modern and met Senior Curator Mark Godfrey who introduced them to the Franz West exhibition, and answered their questions about curating and commissioning.
  • During Turner Prize 2019, the YAHLs led tours of the exhibition to members of the public.
  • In Autumn 2019, parents and carers from the Ramsgate schools took part in a Creative Enablers course designed to help children be more creative in the lives, earning them a City & Guilds level 1 qualification.
  • The Young Arts and Heritage Leaders selected and commissioned Conrad Shawcross to create a new artwork for Ramsgate.

Our children are really enthralled at the possibilities and each week they explore new creative ideas. Their skills are increasing noticeably and their learning focus is being considerably broadened. To lead a major art project in their own town is something very special

Nick Budge, Head of Ramsgate Arts Primary

Pioneering Places Gallery

About the project partners

About Great Places Scheme:

Pioneering Places East Kent is one of sixteen places across England to receive a significant investment as part of the £20million Lottery funded Great Place Scheme, a partnership between Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Historic England. The Great Place Scheme is an ambitious project aiming to make East Kent an even better place to live, work and visit by exploring heritage, developing civic pride and connecting artists and communities. In East Kent there are four projects in Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Ramsgate lead by a local arts organization. The Ramsgate arm of the project is led by Turner Contemporary.

About Conrad Shawcross

Conrad Shawcross RA (b. 1977) is a British artist specializing in mechanical sculptures based on philosophical and scientific ideas, which often pay tribute to some of the great pioneers and analysts of our age. His works often appear to be useful, forcing the viewer to consider their purpose or function. Yet they remain illusive, denying any final definition to remain in the realm of the metaphysical and conceptual. Through their failure as systems and models, they succeed as art works, asking questions rather than answering them.

Shawcross has completed a number of major public commissions across the world, including Paradigm outside the Francis Crick Institute at UCL in London and the 18-metre tall Exploded Paradigm inside the atrium of the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia. He has exhibited at institutions across the world, including Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut, USA, the National Gallery in London, and ARTMIA in Beijing. He is represented by Victoria Miro in London and Tucci Russo in Italy.

About Assemble

Throughout the project, the children have been working with Turner Prize winning collective Assemble who have supported the delivery of school sessions with a framework focusing on research in the built environment. Assemble have produced a manual which reflects the methodology used and the learning gained by this process, which will be complimented by a bookable workshop available from September 2021.