Walk your ears - A project connecting rural and urban children
Written by Willem Montagne, Principle Education and Arts Officer, Dartmoor National Park Authority
During the wet months of June and July 2007 the Dartmoor National Park Education Service in partnership with Aune Head Arts (a Dartmoor based arts organisation) carried out an exciting Art project called "Walk Your Ears" it involved two classes of primary school children one from Shaugh Prior a Dartmoor Primary School and the other from Tamerton Vale primary school from nearby Plymouth. The children from both schools carried out an exploration of the Burrator area to capture sounds they came across and to record what they saw through sketches and drawings. Both groups also traced their routes through the area with the help of GPS.
An essential ingredient was that all the children participated and indeed carried out the three activities involved. To train the children in sound recording and provide the equipment and expert supervision Aune Head Arts commissioned a local sound expert and artist, Martin Prothero. Education Officer Willem Montagne led the walks and helped with the GPS. To record the whole venture on camera they had Aune Head Arts photographer and arts officer Jennie Hayes. Then to sew the whole project together with a specially drawn map the project commissioned a local cartographer Hanno Koch.
The children involved certainly rose to these considerable technical and artistic challenges and produced some fine recordings and pictures in spite of the very damp conditions. Both groups showed amazing interest and enthusiasm throughout the project the results of which are easily found on the Aune Head Arts website.
The map was also published and distributed separately and has proved very popular. It must be recognised that much work went into editing the sounds, producing the map and creating the complex website that combines podcasts, a sound maps, photo gallery and children's art gallery.
The artistic content inspired by the Dartmoor landscape was what drove this project on but that is not to say that it did not engage the participants in many other positive ways as well, by learning out doors, the technical skills of using Geographical positioning systems and sound recording equipment, map reading, and raising sensory awareness.