Primary pupils explore Black History Month themes through art

Maryland Primary School Newham Heroes exhibition

A Marylands Primary School pupil with some artwork she created for the Newham Heroes exhibition. - Credit: Newham Council

A primary school has been exploring and identifying the contributions made by black, African and Caribbean communities through art activities.

The activities at Maryland Primary School are part of Black History Month (BHM) in October, which was established in the UK in 1987 as time dedicated to celebrating and educating people about black history and culture.

Maryland Primary School headteacher Lorna Jackson said: “There has never been a more important time for us all to challenge racism through conversation and curriculum.”

Black History Month activities at Maryland Primary School.

Children creating art as part of the Black History Month activities at Maryland Primary School. - Credit: Newham Council

Art and design leader and Year 2 teacher Sabrina Charlery has written an art project called Art4Change for all early year settings and primary schools.

The cross-curricular project provides an opportunity for children in nursery through to Year 6 to begin to have conversations to challenge racism.

A current project at the school, Newham Heroes, is based around the council’s BHM theme: ambition, achievement, inspiration.

It involves the whole school community creating art for exhibition which has been inspired by art forms and styles of black British artists and pays homage to Newham’s black heroes.

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Ms Charlery said: “This art exhibition goes deeper than just creating visuals, it explores the struggles and victories of people of colour and children will learn about the importance of representation, human rights and the significance of speaking up for their own and other’s freedoms and liberties.”

When asked what BHM means to him, Year 2 pupil Adrian, six, said: "Treating each other with kindness and respect and not just at one time of the year.” 

He added: “We must be kind and caring, we are all equal. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, we must be fair.”

Nine-year-old Lauriya, who is in Year 5, said: “It is important to remember all the things black people have had to go through.

“My artwork shows a powerful pose like the boxer Lennox Lewis.

“His pose shows how strong he is and I chose him because I want my artwork to show how powerful I am.”

Year 6 pupil Denis, 11, said: “Black history has been hidden for a long time. 

“It’s only fair that we all know.” 

If you’d like to see the exhibition, you can visit the school in Gurney Road from Wednesday to Friday, October 20-22. 

This comes during Newham Council's Year of the Young Person during 2021.