Creative Exchange at The Sage: Pecha Kucha

Further to my posts on the lecture by The Rt. Hon. Baroness Estelle Morris and Marc Lewis  and  my post on The Baltic Presents The Turner Prize 2011 here is a brief summary of the Pecha Kucha session at Creative Exchange.

Again for those who are new to my blog Creative Exchange was a conference organised by a number of partners in the North East to discuss, debate and share information about arts education at the present time.

Pecha Kucha

There were four presentations in total at Creative Exchange. I wasn’t sure what Pacha Kucha was so I googled it and Wikipedia defines Pecha Kucha as”

Pecha Kucha (Japanese: ペチャクチャ, IPA: [pet͡ɕa ku͍̥t͡ɕa],[1]chit-chat) is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, usually seen in a multiple-speaker event called a Pecha Kucha Night (PKN).

Creative Exchange wrote…

Pecha Kucha is a simple presentation format where 20 images are shown on a screen in a slideshow format while a presenter talks about each one. Topics will include creative learning, website development, progress in creativity and the Reggio Approach.

I am going to talk about three of these Pecha Kucha’s because the one Pecha Kucha was about an ongoing ideological shift happening in a regional school as part of action research. It’s very hard to summarise and I felt the deputy head and teacher who devised that particular talk tried to give us a lot of information very rapidly and I don’t think I could even begin to summarise their findings or approach. In fact it’s very difficult to summarize any of the talks that were shown in the Pecha Kucha session as they were predominantly visual. A strength that is lost when you get all wordy!


The first Pecha Kucha was the visual recording of a writing project by Jeremy Warr a freelance writer with a group of young learners (possibly Key Stage One). The slides were given the following titles. I think any talk/activity/lesson/workshop could be structured in this way…
  1. Beginning
  2. Exploring imaginatively
  3. Repeating
  4. Creating
  5. Refining/selecting
  6. Looking
  7. Discovering
  8. Connecting
  9. Experiencing
  10. Experimenting
  11. Showing
  12. Concentrating
  13. Talking
  14. Laughing
  15. Collaborating
  16. Examining
  17. Applying
  18. Showing and presenting
  19. Understanding
  20. Ending
I think Jeremy was using the Reggio Approach but its not an area I’m that familiar with.


Teachers from West Park Academy described how they had observed how children had become increasingly dependent on adults to answer their questions as assurances and that learners were averse to take risks for fear of failing.

West Park Academy sort to change their learners attitudes, helping them to recognize that failure was an important part of learning. In essence if you get everything right you aren’t making progress because you are doing what you know you can do.

West Park Academy  said they used their risk assessment to enable their learners to do things that perhaps people might argue was ‘risky’ but that was essentially the point! The risks and rewards were proportionate and reasonable for their age and ability.

The teachers had planned for their to be no defined outcome in their scheme of work and that it was their intention to let children explore how things were put together (toasters and other small electrical appliances), to propose what the different components might do, to use different tools to learn how to disassemble fabricated parts and to experiment with construction tools and techniques.

Initially simply disassembling and re-assembling things was sufficient to keep all learners engaged and on task but as the weeks progress it became clear some needed a finished piece… they developed the idea of creating an Iron Man to link to their literacy lessons.  Whilst the Iron Giant became the children’s evidence of their learning the teachers described how the process of learning was the outcome rather than the finished piece. They felt they had shifted from experts to facilitators and that learners had become more confident and able to take risks when necessary without fear of failure.


Student representatives from the two schools came and presented to the audience in Hall 2 at the Sage which must have been a little bit overwhelming… Im not sure I could do that now!

Spennymmoor and Tudhoe Grange schools are merging to become one and staff felt that learners should play a key role in creating the new website to unify the two schools.

Working with professional website designers as facilitators children  were inspired to create a website that wasn’t corporate or stuffy and instead reflected the young people in their schools. They were inspired by Facebook, Myspace and Jim Careys Website.

Two versions of the site one for adults and one for children will be going live in the near future.

Through the project learners had the chance to work on many creative skills including team working, researching, designing, written communication, presenting to different audiences and gained produced some great content for their site using digital photography, Photoshop and website construction software etc. Again I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I was at Spennymoor and Tudhoe Grange Schools for electing to have their students present to the audience.

Their website will be coming online in the near future.


5 thoughts on “Creative Exchange at The Sage: Pecha Kucha

  1. carole Luby says:

    hi elizabeth.
    You could look up Dave Gale. He did a series of Peachy Coochy nights at Arts Admin in London. they were great.

  2. elizabethkane says:

    Yes I can see that this is a great way of really editing down a lot of information into a nice palatable sized presentation. I’ll google him now.
    I think a bit of printed info with these Pecha Kucha’s might have been helpful for those is a position to repeat or reimagine the projects in their own schools. Perhaps the full presentations are shared somewhere on the internet? That would be grand.

  3. Gayle Sutherland says:

    Hi Elizabeth, I was the ‘creative agent’ (which means I worked with the schools to set up the projects and find artists to work with them to deliver it) for the later two projects that presented and I’ll be writing about them on my blog soon – will let you know when it is up.

    Thanks for taking the time to write about the conference – I’ll pass on the blog link to the schools.

    1. elizabethkane says:

      Hi Gayle

      Thank you any corrections or clarifications welcome! Tried to get it written asap from my notes but know things can get lost in translation. I very much forward to reading your write up.

      I was very impressed with all the presentations but was particularly inspired by the group of children who presented their own project. It must have been daunting getting up and speaking to such a large audience in an unfamiliar setting.
      I don’t think I’ve quite done the projects justice so I’ll definitely put a link across.

      Great to get to these kind of events as an artist/art-educator to see what is happening in schools and helps inform my own workshops.
      Elizabeth K.

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