Creativity and multiculturalism in children’s learning – an interview with artist Lorna Rose

This post features a video interview with artist Lorna Rose. She discusses her approach to children’s creative learning, covering ideas such as the importance of flexibility, multiculturalism and inclusivity in education. I originally recorded this interview with Lorna in April 2016. This post is an updated version that includes a fab section on Lorna’s background.

We live in a world of great cultural, social and political diversity. Recent politically-motivated attacks have been one of many forces that have contributed towards increased concern, fear and distrust between people. Yet the central pillar of a democratic society lies in a nation’s ability to value the richness of diversity, to allow its citizens to express their beliefs and opinions. Within an early years education setting, designing for flexibility may encourage children to encounter educational experiences from diverse levels of knowledge, backgrounds and interests. This then paves the way for the possibility of collaborative learning, understanding, respect and friendship between people.

This week I spent two days at the Lillian de Lissa Children’s Centre & Nursery in Birmingham (UK) working alongside their artist-in-residence, Lorna Rose. 90% of the children attending the nursery are from an ethnic minority, over half speak English as a second language and among the 90 children in attendance, 28 languages are spoken. The ultimate goal of the nursery is for the children to leave with a sense of curiosity about the world. Lorna has been working as the ‘atelierista’ (an artist who works in an education setting) at the centre for over 10 years. This post features an interview with Lorna in which she discusses her approach towards designing creative experiences for children – one that is built upon child-centred practice, flexibility and collaborative reflection.

Lorna tells us about her background… 

“Some people know exactly what they are going to be in life. I can’t work out if I even had a goal or I just fell into this career path. I have always been creative and thanks to my family I have always been able to explore this in whatever way I pleased… as long as it was cheap! Although I enjoyed school I found it really difficult. Being dyslexic and headstrong, the teachers could rarely tell me what I wanted to know in a way that I understood. Luckily there were some significant role models along the way who gave me enough insight to start guiding my energies in a direction I am now completely passionate about.

I have worked as a freelance creative facilitator and artist-in-residence for over 15 years. Throughout this time, I have gained vast experience working with children amongst diverse teams. I have worked as both an artist and educator in Birmingham, Italy and across the globe.

Whilst I am interested in reading books and attending professional development events to improve my practice, one of my biggest inspirations has come from connecting with fellow artists and educators online through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Much of my inspiration also comes from my everyday practices with children and adventures in life.

My passion lies in using creativity to provide meaning, worth, understanding and purpose. By this I mean the arts, but also creativity that is inclusive of investigation and problem-solving in social, educational and community environments. I have a strong ethical compass that orientates my thinking – we need to have respect and regard for the people and environments we live in. I am passionate about the power of creative learning and how this can support children’s personal growth. Creativity can make people and environments better.”

Further Links

Lorna’s website features some lovely documentation and background information on her practice. Check it out here.

Lorna aco-authored a book chapter with Pat Thomson titled ‘When only the visual will do.’ You can find it in the book ‘Researching creative learning: Methods and issues’

Lorna and Pat have another article that looks at ‘Creative learning in an inner-city primary school’ in the book  ‘Changing Schools – Alternative ways to make a world of difference.’

If you would like to read more about children’s creative learning in different educational settings, check out other related posts on Art Play Children Learning here.


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