A South Asian Heritage School Resource

Curated by Tanvi Kant

March – December 2024
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In March 2024, 45 year 5 pupils from Falconhurst School in Eaglestone worked with the artists Kajal Nisha Patel, Vasundhara Sellamuthu and Mansi Shouche over a series of workshops designed to increase understanding and awareness of South Asia’s rich and diverse cultures through contemporary art; as well as to celebrate reuse, repurposing and regeneration in art’s making.

Kajal Nisha Patel used the colours and forms of flags to explore personal, cultural and national identity, its relationship to migration, and how histories are formed through family stories, photographs, mainstream and social media. Mansi Shouche introduced the ancient art form of Madhubani, which originated in Bihar, India and is created using pigments extracted from plants. Inspired by the illuminations in her hometown in Chennai, Vasundhara Sellamuthu explored the cross-cultural use of lighting to celebrate heritage and worked with the children in creating their own celebratory lighting installation at Falconhurst School based on the school crest.

In June 2024, Tanvi Kant led a free workshop at Eaglestone Activity Centre to which all pupils from Falconhurst School were invited with their families to make suncatchers together; the event was attended by 69 adults and children. The artist also led a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) session for Milton Keynes teachers at which she gave a presentation about the project and discussed the creation of a resource based on the workshops to be made available to schools; the session included a practical introduction to the Art of Kantha.

Milton Keynes Arts Centre would like to thank Tanvi Kant, Kajal Nisha Patel, Mansi Shouche, Vasundhara Sellamuthu for their creative input into the project; the teachers, pupils and families of Falconhurst School who acted as researchers and advisors on the workshop content; as well as the teaching staff who attended our CPD event and gave such constructive advice regarding the format of the proposed teaching resource. 122 people have to date worked with us. We will now be creating a South Asian School Resource containing lesson plans, historical contextual material and handling objects that will be made available to schools across Milton Keynes, providing practical support to teaching Key Stages 2 & 3 pupils.

The resource will be launched later this year; further details will be released soon.

This work has been supported by funding from MK Community Foundation

Are you a teacher in MK?

If you're a teacher in MK and would like to hear more about A South Asian heritage schools resource, please get in touch.

hello@miltonkeynesartscentre.org or call us on 01908 608108

The overarching purpose of this project is to celebrate the diversity of MK and to ensure that all residents, young and old, and from all backgrounds, feel that their voice is heard and valued.

The ambition of this Project extends beyond one estate

The artist-led continued professional development session was open to all teachers in Milton Keynes and the schools resources produced will provide a permanent child-centred practical aid to class-based teaching that will:

Demonstrate the value of art in supporting learning across all areas in the curriculum.
Encourage a greater understanding and awareness of South Asian culture in MK schools.
Reflect the cultural heritage and diversity of the children in the city.
Support social cohesion by encouraging peer-to-peer and intergenerational conversations about cultural heritage.
Demonstrate pathways into the arts for practitioners and audiences of the future.
Nurture self-confidence in children, encouraging a sense of pride.
Promote contemporary artists' work, and provide opportunities for employment through the facilitation of creative sessions in schools.
Promote reuse, repurposing and regenerative practices throughout.

The resource will be available to borrow from Milton Keynes Arts Centre by schools across the city in supporting increased understanding of South Asian heritage.

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About the Artist

Tanvi Kant is an interdisciplinary artist who has relocated from London to Hastings, a seaside town in South East England.

Repurposing reclaimed textiles, Tanvi has been practising elemental hand techniques for over 15 years creating sculptural textiles, jewellery, installations, collage and assemblage. Her intricate works are made by transforming unwanted saris and dressmaking off-cuts through wrapping, coiling, knotting and stitching. Her hand-cut, pasted and stitched collage work layers magazine images with her own drawings, paintings and stitched fabrics. Her works explore emotional landscapes through colour-inspired, tactile and organic forms.

Tanvi has extensive experience of working with the public and community groups aiming to help people uncover their own visual and tactile stories through materials and to support intergenerational learning experiences. She leads workshops in textile jewellery making, collage and participatory textile installations.

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