In September ’16 super animator David Bunting was commissioned by verd de gris to lead a week-long series of creative workshops with Year 6 children from Beech Hill Primary School in Halifax, West Yorkshire. As part of our Creative Communities initiative we wanted David to help the children create a short film inspired by the notion of Freedom – following our year’s theme ‘Music Sets Us Free’.

David met and worked with local musician Amy-Rose Atkinson and Pavel Botos and his wife Lucie from our Roma community. Together the filmed a Roma dance for the children to animate. Pavel and Lucie also came into the school, to meet all the children and share some of his experiences as a Roma and get some context to the project:

“Everything I did with the children was based on their encounter with Pavel and Lucie. Hearing their story, discussing the issues it raised about discrimination, prejudice, and the identity of the Roma people – had to be seen and experienced by them. Without this encounter, any understanding about different local communities would have been theoretical. Meeting Pavel and Lucie connected them with real people – we cut through to the human story, and was powerful because of it. The maturity and reflectiveness of their ideas in the animation are a direct response to this encounter.” David Bunting

The final film was edited down from thousands of original drawings made by the children. This was a truly collaborative process with David and the children discussing the theme of the project and editing the work to get the best out of the creative process.

You can watch the final animated film here:

“This project was amazing! It was wonderful to share the Roma culture with all our year 6 children and give them an understanding of the challenges faced by Roma people. It was lovely to hear the children empathising with others and really trying to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It was also great for our Roma children to see their culture being celebrated and to see their sense of pride in what was shared with the children at school. The discussions held around the meaning of freedom were really powerful and it was interesting to see what imagery the children thought of.” Sara Cockroft Yr 6 Teacher

The children, their parents and Pavel and Lucie came together for a special screening event at Square Chapel in November 2106 with an audience of over 200. This was great acheivement as local schools find it very difficult to engage parents from some local communities, especially the Roma parents. Four of the children spoke out with eloquence about the creative process and their feelings about the project as a whole:

“I think the majority of people don’t really know or understand anything about the Roma culture. It is a minority community and not many people follow it. But I think we should learn more about different cultures and religions.” Pupil, Yr 6

The Creative Communities (Stronger Together) programme is supported with funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

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