Home Children and Young People Animal education is a work of art at Knowsley Safari
Artist stands in his studio

Animal education is a work of art at Knowsley Safari

by Alison Cornmell

Knowsley Council’s Kirkby Gallery has teamed up with Knowsley Safari to provide a new series of virtual learning sessions led by professional artists called Art in the Park. Live streamed from the Safari, the outdoors-inspired sessions are aimed at the general public, as well as schools and will start from 1 February 2021.

Free to book and aimed at anyone keen to learn more about the natural world and a range of artistic practices, the general public are invited to four different Art in the Park online events, each led by a professional artist and supported by live and pre-recorded content from Safari experts and the Gallery team.

The first event, ‘Staffin’ the Safari’, is led by Cheshire-based printmaker and documentary artist, Julia Midgley. Julia’s four sessions take place weekly at 10am from February 1st and will focus on work behind the scenes at Knowsley Safari, providing the audience with insight into how keepers and animals work together for the benefit of animal wellbeing and conservation.

The second event open to all is called ‘Revisioning the Rhino’ and is led by professional printmaker and former Manchester School of Art lecturer, Anthony Ratcliffe. Inspired by 16th Century artist, Albrecht Durer, Anthony will explore the idea of a rhinoceros woodcut with contemporary associations. Anthony’s four sessions will take place weekly at 10am from February 2nd.

Art in the Park also offers sessions for schools, at Key Stages Two and Three. The first, ‘Getting Under the Skin’ will be led by Knowsley-based artist, Patricia McDonald-Holmes and will focus on the nature and habitat of a selection of animals at the Safari and the second, ‘Safari Scribblers’, led by published writer, Johanna Robinson, will see children take part in writing exercises inspired by visitors’ perceptions of the Safari. The school sessions take place weekly during school hours, from early March through to April.

Councillor Shelley Powell, Knowsley’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods said:

“Throughout the pandemic the team at Kirkby Gallery have found new and different ways to make arts available to schools and communities. Feedback from participants has been fantastic, with people telling us that they feel connected, able to learn new things and enjoy much needed creativity in their lives at this challenging time.  I’m delighted that a new collaboration, with Knowsley Safari, will open up even more opportunities for our residents to develop new skills, as well as learn about art and nature.”

Nikki Mallott, Head of Learning and Discovery, Knowsley Safari, said:

“With Kirkby Gallery remaining closed due to the pandemic and the Safari looking for additional ways to engage with those interested in the natural world, our Art in the Park collaboration offers a perfect way for us both to continue providing enjoyable education, while reaching new audiences in an engaging way.”

Art in the Park is part of Kirkby Gallery’s ‘Out There and Online’ project , funded by the Museum Development North West Covid-19 Recovery Grants scheme, to enable the gallery to deliver this ‘arts meets the environment’ project with Knowsley Safari.

Members of the public can book onto the Art in the Park sessions here www.knowsleysafariexperience.co.uk/whats-on/events/art-in-the-park/. Schools can contact Knowsley Safari’s Learning and Discovery team directly on 0151 430 9009 (option 2) or enquire online: https://www.knowsleysafariexperience.co.uk/education/contact-us/

Illustration of a Red River Hog
Knowsley Safari’s social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures remain to ensure the maximum health, safety and enjoyment for all guests, staff and animals. Measures include timed and contactless entry, a one-way Foot Safari, socially distanced picnic areas, PPE for staff, protective screens and helpful staff and signage.