Artist Residencies at Oaklands School

Immerse photo by Brian Hartley
Immerse photo by Brian Hartley
What a truly magical week you gave the class. It was a joy to visit with them for the morning. You were all so flexible with the timings, the space and adapting the resources and it was a pleasure to work with a group of people so respectful of the space, the pupil's needs and the staffs too! Just know you made a huge difference for that week.

—Jacquline Wheble, Expressive Arts Teacher at Oaklands School

In November and December 2023, Imaginate ran three short-term artist residencies at Oaklands School. Situated in the north-west of Edinburgh, Oaklands School provides a significantly adapted and supportive learning environment for learners with profound and multiple learning disabilities and often associated health care needs, aged 3 to 18 years old.

We ran three residencies focused on theatre and dance, delivered by a team of Lead Artists and Assistant Artists who bring an exciting variety of artforms to the project.

Beech Class Residency

Lead Artist: Niroshini Thambar
Assistant Artists: Liam Rees and Sanjay Lago
Dates: Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 November, Monday 27 November, Thursday 14 and Friday 15 December

Inspired by Niroshini's experience as a theatre sound designer, this residency explored how we create worlds and environments through sound. The children and artists created a participant-led soundscape, using a variety of instruments and devices. The school said:

"Imaginate joined Beech in December for a number of fabulous interactive music and dance sessions. We experimented with a range of interesting musical instruments and devices and created our own music recordings."

Willow Class Residency

Lead Artists: Greg Sinclair and Jack Hunter
Assistant Artists: Ink Asher Hemp and Marie-Gabrielle Koumenda
Dates: Monday 27 November to Friday 1 December

Welcome to the green, green glade! Our artists created sensory stations focused on nature, which changed each day themed around the four seasons of the year. The school said:

"We lay on an ice-cold lawn under a billowing parachute in Winter; played with falling leaves in Autumn; had a wonderful sunflower and lavender dance party in Summer and (probably our favourite activity) watched pink petal blossom blow into the sky over a huge fan for Spring. Imaginate were incredible and played live music for the children every day. They encouraged everyone to explore, feel and lie near their instruments and even wrote us a song which we love to listen to on repeat!"

Pine Class Residency

Lead Artist: Kirstin Abraham
Assistant Artists: Myrthe Helms and Andre Anderson
Dates: Friday 15 December, Monday 18 to Thursday 21 December

Kirstin, Myrthe and Andre delivered a multi-sensory experience centred around a winter theme. The artists worked with the children and staff to collaboratively construct this based on individual interests and sensory needs. The residency culminated in a winter woodland that artists, pupils and staff wandered together, whilst their co-created soundscape played, visiting spaces that offered smaller scenes of a story told by sensory immersion.