In April 2015, students from Givins/Shaw Junior Public School participated in Arts Alive Day, a school-wide event designed to provide them with hands on experiences in a range of artistic media. The Koffler Gallery provided tours of our current exhibition Erratics as a way of introducing the topic of photography as a tool for understanding history.

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2bEvocative photographs of the past were pulled from the archives of Givins/Shaw, and served as source material for the school’s current grade 3, 4, 5, and 6 students to reflect on the school’s history.

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The students were asked to consider what stories –both possible and impossible – may have transpired at the school. What personalities – remarkable and unremarkable – might have graced its halls?

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5bMore than one student was asked to respond to the same image, by writing short stories about what they thought the photograph conveyed. Some narratives were rooted in known facts about the school, or in plausible assumptions about the photographs captured there.

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7bOthers were the stuff of pure fantasy, and combined the familiar setting of the school with characters and events that could only ever be imagined by a child.

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The students’ stories were displayed in an exhibition at Artscape Youngplace, entitled Stranger Than Fiction, where all of the narratives and their respective photos were exhibited together, challenging the viewer to separate the “fact” from the “fiction”.