DAISI – Young People’s Arts workshops explore the First World War

DAISI, Devon and Torbay’s arts in education organisation, has been offering a selection of First World War-themed arts workshops to young people across Devon in order to ascertain where their interests lie and how they would like to further their exploration into this important period in our history.

The Heritage Lottery Fund, YOUNG ROOTS exists to:

  • Provide new opportunities for young people between the ages of 11 to 25 from a range of backgrounds to help shape and deliver enjoyable and engaging heritage activities as part of a project;
  • Develop partnerships between youth and heritage organisations to bring together knowledge and expertise; and
  • Create opportunities to celebrate young people’s achievements in the project and share their learning with the wider communitySouthmead Primary WW1 DAISI project1

Daisi has been running consultative workshops in advance of submitting their Young Roots bid. Activities in each workshop have been developed in discussion with Daisi’s Rae Hoole, individual workshop leaders/artists and setting staff to illicit where the participants’ existing knowledge in WW1 lies, what interests them, what they would like to explore in more detail, the people, stories which are resonant for them and the media through which they would want to express their findings and experiences.

The consultative workshops have taken place in four different settings: South Molton – (Barnstaple Home Educated Young People), Silverton – (Scouts), Braunton – (Southmead Primary School) and Dawlish – (Dawlish Community College)

This Facebook page has  a number of interesting photographs from the consultation workshops.

Barnstaple Home Educated Young People- ‘Home grown kids’ (11-16 yr olds)   Wed 11th December – led by artist Jo Bushell (Visual arts and performance)

Jo had altered the familiar room at South Molton Youth and Community Hall. It was dimly lit with spotlights attached to each table. The session started with a short presentation – broad in its subject matter; introducing facts about how the war started, statistics relating to numbers of men lost and injured, recruitment posters, Heath Robinson drawings, Chanel fashion icons and women exploring  new working prospects.  Also, examples of common usage slang which derived from the First World War ie. mufti, bumf, chin-strapped, cushy and ‘on the wire’.  Curiosity was stimulated and questions followed.  This subject has a definite resonance with young people. They connected easily with issues around life at home and communication with loved ones.

The practical aspect of the workshop involved designing and creating a postcard. Jo invited all young people to design a postcard describing the aspects of WW1 that had become of interest to pursue further and also to express the art forms which the group would like to use in their exploration.

The postcards were created at A4 on ‘shrinkle paper’ then shrunk in the oven to become much smaller.   This transformative process was also engaging and produced some interesting art works which were hung from wire to display.


Silverton Scouts (10 – 14 yr olds)  –  William Kermode’s lino cuts  – Mon 13th Jan & Mon 20th Jan  –  led by ArtTree – Jon Lincoln Gordon and Trish Mohan

When the Scouts arrived the room had been set up with two large tables, one strewn with images –  British and German propaganda posters, a 4-page resume of the main events of each year of the war and Henry Williamson’s The Patriots Progress illustrated with powerful lino cuts  by William Kermode.Silverton Scouts WW1 DAISI project4

After introducing themselves, Jon and Trish introduced the theme – The First World War- it’s vastness, it’s brutality and the great losses suffered.  TheSscouts had heard of WW1 but as we expected, most knew little detail. One was studying it as a topic. Jon and Trish played a few minutes from the ‘The GREAT WAR’ DVD to provide a background. They then spoke a little of life at home as well as stories of soldiers and battle.  Perhaps most arresting were their personal anecdotes of memories of grandparents and uncles who had served; Trish sitting on her uncle’s knee and the trick he played with his false wooden leg, Jon of a grandfather who never mentioned how or why he was awarded his medals of bravery.  The Scouts listened carefully. Silverton Scouts WW1 DAISI project2

We were going to make out own images to print onto individual pennants and these in turn would be attached to one another to make bunting.  This week we would work on paper, next week on cotton.

Silverton Scouts WW1 DAISI project3

The collection of 2D stimulus along with a next of kin memorial plaque and a set of three medals belonging to Jon’s grandfather provided wonderful inspiration for the art work the Scouts would produce.


Southmead Primary School, Braunton  –  Monday 3rd Feb – led by visual artist Jane Churchill.  Moths decorated by year 5 pupils in honour of the men whose names are on the Braunton War memorial

Southmead Primary WW1 DAISI projectJane acquired the roll of honour from the local war memorial and after a stimulating introduction where Jane showed her own WW1 inspired art work, each child took a name and decorated a moth in honour.  They also wrote letters to loved ones, imagined and written on the back of their moths.






Dawlish Community College  (11-16 yr olds)  –  Tony Liddington lead artist

Tony worked over a period of weeks with students from Dawlish Community College, with Drama initially and then began to explore the theme of WW1. Young people brought in their own memorabilia from WW1 and began to plan for a larger project where they would explore Dawlish and the people of Dawlish in the First World War, through theatre, photography, creative writing and artefacts found and imagined.