BESSIE’S WINGS An Art Exhibition and A New Opera 6-23 June 2017

Press Release ( - LAMBETH, England - May 13, 2017 - Young artists will display their work at Ovalhouse Theatre Cafe ( next month in an exhibition inspired by the life of the first black woman to earn an international pilot’s licence. Bessie Coleman defied expectations and overcame barriers of the day to fulfil her dream to learn to fly.

Pupils aged 8-14 from five schools (Reay (, Herbert Morrison ( and Henry Fawcett ( primaries and Lilian Baylis Technology School ( in Lambeth, and Queen’s Hill ( Primary in Norwich) have worked with class teachers and specialists using a range of media to respond to this inspirational but often overlooked figure. Sarah Botchway of the Lambeth Teaching Schools’ Alliance ( said “Children and their teachers have embraced the challenge of creating and showcasing high quality art on a public stage. We hope that learning about Bessie’s story inspires others to consider what they want to achieve and how best to realise their dreams”.

Teenagers from Lilian Baylis Technology school worked on canvases with acrylic paint for the first time. They also investigated archive photos and resources to explore missing histories of black professional lives in the 19th century. Ella Phillips, visiting artist with Autograph ABP, ( said “the students produced some intriguing work exploring issues of race and gender, time, memory, lived experiences, and future aspirations.”

To underline the relevance of Bessie’s story today, current aviators will spend the afternoon with some of the children on Wednesday 7th June, learning about flight, meteorology and navigation. Kanchana Gamage, founder of the Aviatrix Project, ( said  “We are incredibly proud to support the project. We have a strong mission to lead by example and enable more girls and women to consider aviation and aerospace as an exciting and accessible profession. We hope that the involvement of our pilots as role models motivates these young audiences to take STEM subjects seriously and aim high in whatever they do.”

The free art show at Ovalhouse Cafe, 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 is open during cafe opening hours throughout 6-23 June, launching with a private view 4.30-5.30pm Tuesday 6 June.

This project is led by the Lambeth Teaching Schools’ Alliance and the Oval Learning Cluster and is part of a wider collaboration between schools, community groups and artists generously supported by The Walcot Foundation (, Foyle Foundation (, Garfield Weston Foundation (, Battersea Power Station Foundation ( and the Big Lottery Celebrate Fund. ( Alongside the exhibition, nearly 100 children from St Mark’s (, Vauxhall ( and Ashmole ( primary schools are devising a new opera BESSIE’S WINGS ( with the English Touring Opera to be performed at Morley College, ( 61 Westminster Bridge Rd 21- 23 June.

Notes to Editors

Bessie Coleman (1892 – 1926) was an American stunt pilot.As a child in Texas she walked four miles a day to her segregated, one-room school, where she loved maths and reading. She developed an interest in flying, but as a woman, and as a person of African American and Native American descent, she was not allowed to attend flight school in the US. Undeterred, she learned French and travelled to Paris where she eventually achieved her international pilot’s licence in 1921. She became a celebrity, thrilling crowds at airshows until her untimely death in a plane crash.

The Oval Learning Cluster ( is a charity which shares ideas and resources and coordinates extra-curricular support and activities across a dynamic and diverse group of primary, secondary and special schools.

Twitter @OvalLearning

Oval Learning Cluster, The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR


Source : Oval Learning Cluster

Tags : education events


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