Undergrad builds confidence with art classes for students at Leek school

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Young students at Horton Lodge Special Community School in Leek have been boosting their creativity with the help of artistic student Molly Davies.

The 63-year-old undergraduate art student, who lives in Macclesfield, always had a love for art as a child but fell out of touch with her creativity and headed to the world of work.

Hoping to get back to her painting and drawing Molly would always take an art kit on holiday and it was after one special trip to the Isle of Uist that her path in life changed for good.

Molly explained: “For my 60th birthday we went to the Outer Hebrides. I would go out with my easel and take in the sights as I looked over the loch.

“When we came home and I went back to work, I just couldn’t face it anymore. I told my husband, who had a full-time job, and he just said, alright I’ll support you.”

From there, Molly enrolled on an undergraduate programme through the University of Derby and studies at their Leek campus. It is from this time in Leek that she came across the students of Horton Lodge.

A Special Community School for children aged three to 11, who have a variety of physical and severe communication difficulties. Horton Lodge was named Sainsbury’s registered charity of the year, for the second time.

To show their appreciation, the children had been giving out cakes and Christmas cheer in the Sainsbury’s store when Molly saw them.

Horton Lodge teacher Geraldine Fallows said: “It was pure chance that Molly met me that day. We got into a conversation and Molly wanted to know if anyone did art with the children.

“We encourage creativity, we have no formal art classes and only complete what is required by the National Curriculum. I asked her to get in touch with the school to see what we could set up.”

It was after Christmas when Molly and Geraldine met up to discuss what could be done to bring Molly’s artistic flair into the classroom.

Molly remembered: “We looked through the school’s curriculum to find something that I could do with the children to help build on their learning while doing the art. We found a section on the Mayan culture and it was a perfect fit.”

After planning and thinking through some session ideas, Molly came in prepared with long handled brushes to help the children be more independent in finding their own style and artistic style.

Molly Davies helping the students of jungle class.

Mrs Fallows said: “Molly was just fabulous with the class and communicated with them so clearly. She had no preconceived ideas for the outcome of the project and just wanted the children to enjoy themselves.

“Molly valued everything that they produced and that really boosted the children’s self-esteem.”

It wasn’t just the teachers who were impressed with the sessions, children from the Jungle class at Horton Lodge said: “We liked Molly, she was very kind to us, and the art was fun, relaxing work.

“We would like her to come again for finger painting, maybe even helping us make a Big Ben or the Leek Monument.”

As an artist Molly believes in allowing someone to find their own creativity, she said: “You facilitate and enable someone, you don’t tell them what they should do. Let them find themselves and if they need some help with it, help them find it.”

Together the class and Molly created masks and headdresses, painted colourful birds and built their own Mayan temple. Now that it has come to the end of the session, Molly explained: “I didn’t know how I’d get on, but I have absolutely loved it. I feel really sad that it’s finished, I felt like a part of the team.”

Molly Davies alongside Jungle class students with their masks.

Molly has been planning what her dream career will look like. She said: “I hope I can be employed doing these types of classes, it would be a fantastic way to inspire others creativity.”

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