Many heads are better than one

Day in the life of John Bishop, Learning deliverer

I had a busy couple of days at Compton Verny last week the 14 and 15 May.
I turned up as a volunteer as usual on Thursday 14 May ready for a steady cutting card and preparing classrooms and items for the learning team.
Alice Kirk, Learning Programmer greeted me with “O John Boy thank goodness you have arrived!”
Vix Powell, Forest School leader is off on sick leave and it was raining hard. It was the day and night of Martin Parr’s talk. He is a famous documentary photographer who’s attending Museums at night. Jo Essen, Learning Programmer was busy with Imogen Morris, OYAP organiser putting the rooms together for his talk, book signing and performances by OYAP musicians.

GB. England. Yorkshire. Hebden Bridge. Nasebottom. The Ancient Order of Hen-Pecked Husbands Annual General Meeting. Easter Monday, 1977.
GB. England. Yorkshire. Hebden Bridge. Nasebottom. The Ancient Order of Hen-Pecked Husbands Annual General Meeting. Easter Monday, 1977.

I quickly set about helping Alice put together some items for the forest school then I was sent on an errand to collect some items we needed for the children for them to make bird feeders. This meant me driving to Wellesbourne and the CO-OP store to hunter gather Cheerios, lard and Vaseline. (Yes, I know strange brew?)
Still chucking down with rain, I headed off to the store. I quickly found the Cheerios and the lard but the CO-OP, it only had very expensive tiny tins of Vaseline. Instead I called in at the chemists and found a larger pot.

Back at Compton Verney, Clifford Newgas another learning volunteer had arrived as usual. We were in a bit of a whiz and I explained to him what was happening and we returned to the woods where we set about our task of preparing the site in the forest.  The early-years session started around mid-day, it was still raining continuously and a pretty chill in the air, we will waited for the children to come and they did.

Clifford headed back to the house and set about tasks of printing and cutting flyers for the evening, while Alice and I got to play in the wet, rain and wind with the children who apparently never noticed any of these elements. We made dens, hunted bugs and painted leaves, sticks and made wonderful bird feeders with the items I had gathered at the shops.

Forest Schools early years
Forest Schools early years

As an ex fire-fighter,  we pretended the camp fire was ablaze and then we pretended it was a pond. The children built a hotel and then I cut out some paper fish which the children caught with pretend fishing rods. I helped them cut up some paper chips and we cooked all these wonderful creations on the blazing pretend fire. The children potted them and imagined to eat them. It made Alice and I pretty hungry as by 2:30pm we had not even had a cup of tea or coffee. The children left at this point and we cleared up the sodden camp and returned looking like intrepid lost explorers to the house.

After our lunch we cleaned up the forest school items and helped out with the preparation for the oncoming Museums at Night and the arrival of photographer Martin Parr and guests. I was to be door man, ticket checker and tweeter of the special event. I, as the rest of the team had brought a change of clothes and a good job I did!

We busied ourselves until Martin Parr arrived Imogen was busy working with the Bretch Hill and Grimsbury community (OYAP project) and setting up for the musicians. Catering had set up Paella and macaroni cheese. Jo was sorting out digital cameras and printer for the family photography workshop which will be displayed on the #ParrWall.

Parr on Parr: An Evening Talk by Martin Parr
Parr on Parr: An Evening Talk by Martin Parr

I took my position on the door and had a flashback to my security work back stage at the NEC arena. The guests came and Martin Parr did a great talk and a super book signing in which he was charming and very approachable. The evening continued with music, food and fun. I left around 8:30pm for home and a quick prep for the next day where I would be delivering Parr and Canaletto to Stratford High School my very first up front delivery.

Book signing with Martin Parr
Book signing with Martin Parr

I arrived early about 9am and had to set up the class rooms ready to deliver the session around 10am the students arrived then and Stacey Righton, Ann Loscombe the other learning deliverers and I directed them to the Learning Centre. After a brief introduction in which I admit I faltered just a little we went to work talking and asking them, their thoughts on three artists Canaletto, Martin Parr and Faye Claridge. Faye has a super size Kern Baby situated in the grounds. She also has her photographs in the café area.

After the students had their lunch we were busy with collage work until they left for their bus around 2:30pm. We then had to turn the rooms around for the evenings events. It was a full on first day and I thought overall I feel I had done a good days work. I will be better next time as the first day of anything is pretty traumatic.

Collage on top of a Parr or Canaletto

Thanks to the learning team for all their help and guidance to get me through the day.
by John Bishop

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