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Over the past 6 months artist Teresa Grimaldi has been working as our ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Island Free School, as part of an exciting Island wide Creative Biosphere project. We had a chat about how it’s been going so far.  

The Creative Biosphere project is taking place across the Island and brings together five cultural organisations, five schools and colleges and five artists through the Isle of Wight’s Cultural Education Partnership. It aims to inspire creativity in young people through the Island’s UNESCO Biosphere status and foster an appreciation of the local environment and heritage; at the same time, strengthening partnerships and increasing awareness of the island’s Biosphere designation.


Ventnor Exchange has been twinned with the Island Free School where Teresa has been working with students most weeks on biosphere related creative projects as well as helping signpost students to the opportunities offered through our Brave Island programme.
Hi Teresa, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work as an artist?


I grew up on the Isle of Wight before venturing to London to work in HMV record shop  in Oxford Street. I loved working there but thought that I should go to art college as that was my absolute favourite subject at school.I have worked as a freelance artist since I finished my Degree in Theatre Design in the 90’s.  I have a passion for puppets. I specialised in Design for Puppet Theatre and use puppet forms in a lot of my work whether through performance, installation , animation or painting. 


I have recently been moving my arts practice into experimental animation with support from Arts Council England , who help artists through providing grants to support work financially . 


My work has always incorporated an educational element through facilitating workshops at Art Centres, schools and many other places and spaces. I have punctuated my freelance work through jobs at Dartington College of Arts in Devon for 9 years and Reflections Nursery and Forest School in Worthing  as artist in Residence for 7 years. 
Teresa Grimaldi

2. You’re Ventnor Exchange’s artist in residence at the Island Free School, what’s it like working with the students? And what do they think about having an artist in the school?

I am really enjoying visiting the school on a regular basis as I am getting to know the students and their individual ways of working. I bring different stimulus in each week , weird things in jars, puppet characters that i have made and books that I am inspired by. I hope that these might inspire or provoke students reponses and questions. The students are starting to ask questions about what it is like to be an artist and what kind of projects i have worked on which is really great to discuss.
3. This project is all about the Island being a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, can you tell us what this means?
The Island’s Biosphere status recognises the way that the people living here are working with biodiversity and sustainability. It is celebrating the unique ecosystem here on the Isle of Wight, and how it is being conserved to protect the wildlife and their habitats. I am still learning what it really means, and education is a key part of the investment in the Biosphere status.

Our Creative Biosphere project helps to share and learn what it all means to be humans in partnership with the natural world around us, and how we can celebrate and share this with a local and worldwide audience.

4. We’ve heard you’re working with the students on exploring mythical creatures, where did this idea come from? 


 Through ongoing discussions with Jack and Megan at Ventnor Exchange we have shaped the brief that was the starting point for the students work. We talked about creatures that exist and are unique in the Ventnor Undercliff area. We were very keen that the students explored creative ways of responding to the biosphere. We were inspired by Phlegm’s Ventnor Giant mural and fellow Island artist Rachael Berry’s project about Undiscovered Creatures and their habitats and developed that idea to work on drawings , designs and eventually puppets that will be part of the Ventnor Fringe Festival 2022.


5. What are you hoping the students will get out of this project?


I really hope that the students develop an awareness and enjoyment of working on a live project that will be seen by thousands of people at The Fringe Festival.  I think that they will develop a real appreciation of the local landscape and their part of living alongside the wonderful nature. we have here. I also think that they will develop a strong link to the exciting work of the Ventnor Exchange and particularily the amazing opportunities available through Brave Island.


The project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through ACE (Arts Council England) and IWAONB (Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), and by the two High Street Heritage Action Zones (Newport and Ryde) and Ventnor Exchange’s #IWILL project.


You can follow progress with the project on Instagram here

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One Reply to “Meet Our Creative Biosphere Artist In Residence”

  1. Fantastic project and a really great way to get the young generation engaged in the Biosphere. The Island is a truly unique place which is why it was awarded Biosphere Reserve status – more than just the abundance of wildlife and flora and fauna but also for the human connection to the natural world – how we respect, preserve and nurture it. I am so glad that art and culture organisations are working to enhance this relationship as we need now more than ever to safeguard our future. Well done all ?

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