Despacito Art School

In response to COVID-19, we have closed the office and are investigating the possibility of Despacito being an online art resource for our young artists and other local children. We will keep you updated via social media and our newsletter as soon as these tools are put in place.


The Despacito Art School is a hands-on place to learn about art, craft and functional object-making. Despacito is open to young people aged 5 to 12, who live in and around Cliftonville West. They named the art school after their favourite 2017 summer hit.

Their motto is: We will be the best artist we can be.

Despacito takes place every Wednesday afternoon during term time, 4-6pm. 

The Despacito participants have a say about the programme and contribute to shaping the sessions, which this year were led by OSE alumni Emily Whitebread, Sarah Karen, and Coral Brookes, with occasional guest collaborators (including the Margate theatre organisation 1927 as well as singer sarasara). The delivery of Despacito is supported by OSE team members Ayaan Bulale (aka Miss Ayaan) and Louis Palfrey as well as OSE 2019 Associates Emily Demetriou, Rhona Foster, Laurène Gitton, Holly Hunter, Annie Nichols and Jules Varnedoe. All facilitators are paid, thus providing a vital economy for the artists undertaking the OSE Associates Programme.

Despacito provides regular opportunities to showcase the work of the young artists to their families, the local community and the broader public; these include exhibitions in our building and participation in the summer Margate Carnival.

In 2019 the Despacito Art School was featured on TV twice, in a short film that premiered on BBC Breakfast, and as part of a short documentary about Margate and the Turner Prize.

Last Sessions / Art Explorers:
18 September to 27 November 2019

To coincide with the 2019 Turner Prize being exhibited at Turner Contemporary, Margate, this term focused on exploring a range of ideas and processes inspired by Turner Prize nominees, both past and present.

Wednesday 18 September 2019
Together we dance part 1: We began the term by focusing on the work of Lubaina Himid, winner of the 2017 Turner Prize. Her work explores ideas about identity and culture. Inspired by Himid’s cut out figures, we created cardboard portraits of ourselves holding belongings that represent us, thinking about who we are as individuals/together, where we are from and what that means.

Wednesday 25 September 2019
Together we dance part 2: In this session we developed our Lubaina Himid inspired cut outs using fabric, paint and newspaper to colour, collage and embellish. This session was documented by the BBC and the short film they made can be viewed here.

Wednesday 2 October 2019
Art Rebels: Looking at Jeremy Deller’s folk archives and local archives from Margate, we thought about subcultures and the idea of being rebellious through art making. We created our own memorabilia/archive influenced by punk/protest references, consisting of DIY printed t-shirts, collaged posters, badges and patches. This session was also documented by the BBC and the footage was included in a short documentary about Margate.

Wednesday 9 October 2019
Architecture in reverse: Inspired by 2018 Turner Prize nominee Forensic Architecture, we took objects apart to uncover a new world inside. We experimented with forensic techniques and different ways of looking at these object components to build new stories. This included processes such as cyanotypes and casts in clay.

Wednesday 16 October 2019
Beyond continents: Many of the artists nominated for the 2019 Turner Prize explore ideas about people and places. Tai shani’s work looks at real and imaginary worlds whilst Oscar Murillo creates flags or textiles thinking about migration. In this session we used mark making inspired by the artists to look at these ideas. We experimented with marbling influenced by Tai Shani’s sci-fi inspired sets and created a large canvas together using mixed media as maps, flags or evidence of our movements inspired by Murillo’s paintings/installations.

Wednesday 23 October 2019
The artist’s hat: Monster Chetwynd is an artist who continuously changes her name. She works around ideas of popular culture and storytelling through her performance and costume making. In this session we explored our artist identities, making flamboyant hats inspired by her DIY and playful approach to making costumes and characters.

Wednesday 30 October 2019
How are you feeling: In this session we experimented with life drawing inspired by David Shrigley’s Turner Prize nominated project ‘How are you feeling’. Using our artist hats and objects from previous weeks as props we thought about playful and unique ways that we can make observational life drawings of each other, using collaborative experimental activities and different mediums.

Wednesday 6 November 2019
Earwitness: Inspired by 2019 Turner Prize nominee Laurence Abu Hamdan, we thought about how different objects make sounds that can tell us about events and places. For this session we used sound and listening as a way to navigate spaces and create stories.

Wednesday 13 November 2019
Pots for the people: In this session we worked with clay to create unique pots and bowls, inspired by Laure Prouvost‘s nominated work ‘Wantee’ and Grayson Perry’s autobiographical pots.

Wednesday 20 November 2019
The message: This week we glazed our ceramics and experimented with writing activities inspired by one of the 2019 Turner Prize nominees, Helen Cammock. We used this as a method to reflect on
what has been learnt over the term.

Past Sessions / Voices of Margate:
5 June to 24 July 2019

For this term we focused on using our voices to demonstrate what Margate means to us. This was explored through a series of workshops focusing on two basic mediums: sound and print. We worked with singer sarasara to create a unique and exciting soundscape evoking our thoughts and feelings of the town alongside a print workshop led by artist/textile designer Yemi Awosile.

Wednesday 5 June 2019
Sounds from Margate – Excursion to Olby’s Soul Cafe and Music Rooms: In our first soundscape session with singer, musician and producer sarasara. We looked at a basic map of Margate and identified key areas of the town that are important to us. We began working on our soundscape by recording words and phrases that represent our thoughts and feelings of the town we live in.

Wednesday 12 June 2019
Messages from Margate: In this session we revisited our sound recordings and picked out words and phrases that could be used to inspire simple but BOLD posters. Our posters took influence from the Russian constructivism movement, using a limited colour palette of paint, cut-out letters, and basic monoprinting.

Wednesday 19 June 2019
Messages from Margate part 2: In this session we demonstrated the power of physical print by taking an active role in displaying our posters in highly visible areas around town, including billboards and shop windows. The posters carried the hashtag #despacitoartschool and we used this as an opportunity to create anticipation in the lead up to Margate Carnival.

Wednesday 26 June 2019
Cyanotype workshop – capturing movement: How can the body be used to create and evoke different feelings? How can we use movement as a tool to communicate? In this session we watched short snippets from films and cartoons, and then created prints influenced by these clips using a large piece of cyanotype fabric. These prints were used as flags during the Margate Carnival procession.

Wednesday 3 July 2019
Power of print with Yemi Awosile: In this session we used our building and its interior to create rubbings, drawings and texts that we then manipulated via photocopying and monoprinting. We looked at how we can use basic printing techniques to manipulate drawings and textures to take on new meanings and narratives. We used the results to reclaim and alter the narrative of our space.

Wednesday 10 July 2019
Carnival prep: In this session we constructed more props and decorations for Margate Carnival. We started by creating small and large mouths, ears, speech bubbles and puppets out of cardboard.

Wednesday 17 July 2019
Carnival prep part 2: In this session we continued making props for Margate Carnival, as well as adding iron-on logos that we designed to t-shirts.

Wednesday 24 July 2019 (double session)
Sounds from Margate part 2: In this second session with sarasara we created simple sounds with our bodies, eg. clapping, tapping and thumping. These sounds were recorded and merged with our previous recordings to create a unique soundscape that we played during the carnival procession.

Past Sessions / Margate is a Playground:
20 February to 29 May 2019

We spent the first term of the year using our bodies, voices, and immediate surroundings to create playful sights and sounds. These were then used as material for the exhibition, Margate is a Playground, where we collected our work together to create a fantastical version of Margate. To keep us cool, calm and collected during this mammoth task of redesigning our town, we also set time aside each session to practise simple moving meditations and relaxation techniques.

Wednesday 20 February 2019
Mapping the skyline: Introduction to our new space with the Despacito young people, their parents, and a translator from Roma In The Lead. We had drinks and nibbles, and took part in a workshop where we mapped the views seen from the large windows of our new space, considering how our new surroundings could inspire our fantasy version of Margate.

Wednesday 27 February 2019
Growing things: How does greenery affect the spaces we inhabit? We spent this session learning about plants, parks, and trees, and we planted the first seeds for our new indoor garden.

Wednesday 6 March 2019
Become a piece of architecture: What would it be like to spend the afternoon as a building? We spent this session exploring our new building floor by floor, inch by inch, imagining what it would be like to become a piece of architecture for a short while. We then considered what types of buildings we would want to populate our new town and why. 

Wednesday 13 March 2019
Noise planning: What noises do we want to hear in our new town? We spent this session considering what noises are necessary for a functioning town and which ones we could do without. We then created and recorded a noisy composition as a soundtrack to our new town.

Wednesday 20 March 2019
Moving buildings: If buildings were alive, how would they move? This session was led in collaboration with 1927, where we created a short animation using drawings of buildings and their inhabitants.

Wednesday 27 March 2019
Realising our town part 1: In this session we began creating cardboard models for our town, working in teams to design different buildings.

Wednesday 3 April 2019
Realising our town part 2: In this session we continued working on the cardboard models for our town.

Wednesday 10 April 2019
Realising our town part 3: In this session we completed the cardboard models and thought about the layout of our town.

Wednesday 17 April 2019
Weave a sculpture: Using chicken wire and fabric strips we made several big woven structures that could be placed around our new town.

Wednesday 24 April 2019
Placards: words are powerful. In this session we made written banners to show the world what we care about (people, a place, the environment etc.).

Wednesday 1 May 2019
Imagined self-portraits: What is the difference between you and your environment? In this session we made silhouette self-portraits, filling in the blank spaces with images that reflect our environment, our personalities, and our wildest dreams.

Wednesday 8 May 2019
Murals: In this session we created a unique and colourful display to feature in and attract people to our new town.

Wednesday 15 May 2019
Murals 2: In this session we continued to work on our unique and colourful display for our new town.

Wednesday 29 May 2019
Shapes in the outdoors: In this session we created temporary geometric shape sculptures for our local park, taking influence from what we see in nature.

Thursday 13 June 2019
Margate is a Playground exhibition: Our first exhibition in our new space, showcasing all of our work created throughout the first term of 2019.

Past sessions / Heroes:
19 September to 28 November 2018

Wednesday 19 September 2018
Creating comics: Recalling and embellishing memories of summer to create our own short comics.

Wednesday 26 September 2018
Characteristics: Thinking about the characteristics of heroes and villains (brave and kind, wicked and cunning etc). How can we represent these traits through colour and form?

Wednesday 3 October 2018
Animation: Workshop with 1927.

Wednesday 10 October 2018
Designing our characters: Heroes and sidekicks, villains and henchmen. What will they look like? What powers will they have? Do they have a catchphrase? World Mental Health Day special session on feelings and exploring emotions.

Wednesday 24 October 2018 (half term double session)
Creating our costumes: Using our designs to create our own heroes and villains costumes ready for Halloween.

Saturday 27 October 2018
Despacito showcase: An exhibition showcasing the work of the Despacito Art School.

Wednesday 31 October 2018
Halloween trick or treat: Wearing our costumes and following a trick or treat map of Athelstan Road.

Wednesday 7 November 2018
Action figures: Using wire and plasticine to turn our heroes into action figures.

Wednesday 14 November 2018
Action figures 2: Using wire and plasticine to turn our villains into action figures.

Wednesday 21 November 2018
Creating a scene: Placing our action figures into a scene by creating 3D comics from cardboard.

Wednesday 28 November 2018
Creating a scene 2: Continuing to place our action figures into a scene by creating 3D comics from cardboard.

Past Sessions / Margate Carnival:
4 July to 5 August 2018

Wednesday 4, Wednesday 11 July & Wednesday 18 July 2018
Carnival School: Working on large collaborative sculptures, on props and costumes using materials including recycled items.

Monday 30 July to Thursday 2 August 2018, every day between 11am and 2pm
Carnival School: Last final boost before the big day!

Sunday 5 August 2018
Margate Carnival!

Past sessions / Creatures of Cliftonville:
9 May to 27 June 2018

Wednesday 9 May 2018
Slimy creatures: Learning how to make slime to create our own creatures.

Wednesday 16 May 2018
Designing and printing T-shirts / Tai Chi: Learning printing processes to make our own t’shirts. This session also explored Tai Chi techniques to think about movement and the motion of different species – something we continue to practise each session.

Wednesday 23 May 2018
Hackathon characters: Reusing and reassembling old toys to create our own imaginary characters.

Wednesday 30 May 2018
Kite Making: Designing and constructing our own kites to fly, looking at the birds of Cliftonville to give us ideas: from seagulls, sanderlings and pigeons to parakeets.

Wednesday 6 June 2018
Instrument Making: Making our own instruments out of this week’s recycled materials to think about how different objects can create unique sounds.

Wednesday 13 June 2018
The Art of Cooking: Weigh, chop, mix and taste, thinking about cooking as a creative and sensory process, and inventing our own recipes.

Wednesday 20 June 2018
Shadow puppets and painting with light: Using digital and manual processes (e.g. card cut-outs and cameras) to think about shape and light.

Wednesday 27 June 2018
Clay animals: Modelling, building and decorating our own clay animals.

Past sessions: January to April 2018

This round of Despacito echoed the project ‘Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum‘ led by Marguerite Humeau, which ran in parallel and explored the afterlife, antiquity and space. The programme for Despacito was put together Heather Tait.

Wednesday 31 January
Who is awesome? Who do we celebrate?: Create large 3d Portraits.

Wednesday 7 February
Mummies: Explore ‘wrapping’ methods using string, wool and other fabrics.

Wednesday 14 February
Build and decorate a space rocket inspired by the LIDO Tower.

Wednesday 21 February
Clay modelling: Create our own terracotta army that will journey with us to the new planet.

Wednesday 28 February
Build a wall: Brick making from plaster of Paris and foraged items e.g. seaweed, shells, etc.

Wednesday 7 March
Chalk carving: Inspired by hieroglyphics we will create our own symbolic language and carve it into the chalk.

Wednesday 14 March
Metalwork: Embossing and wired metalwork.

Wednesday 21 March
Jewellery making: Bracelets, badges and pendants using sea glass and other found items.

Wednesday 28 March
Make a time capsule: What should we leave behind?

Wednesday 4 April
Candle making.

Wednesday 11 April
Costume making part 1.

Wednesday 18 April
Costume making part 2.

Past sessions: Autumn 2017

Wednesday 4 October
Printing from drain covers: In this session we painted onto drain covers using printing ink and made prints from them. We also experimented with rubbings and made prints of road signs and other text based street furniture.

Wednesday 11 October
T-shirt printing from drain covers: Making printed t-shirts using the techniques learned last week.

Wednesday 18 and 25 October (half term)
Giant sweetshop: In this session we created enlarged versions of our favourite sweets, as individual projects to be put together to create a sweetshop exhibition.

Wednesday 1 November
Cynotype printing using found objects: In this session we learned how to print simple cyanotypes using found objects.

Wednesday 8 November
Cyanotype printing with self portraits: In this session we made cyanotype self portraits by taking photographic portraits and turning them into negatives using vegetable oil.

Wednesday 15 November
Leather making workshop: In this session we made handmade, drawstring purses from pre-cut patterns.

Wednesday 22 November
Monoprinted self portraits: In this session we experimented with monoprinting mark making, followed by self portraits. Photographs were taken of each child and used to make monoprints.

Wednesday 29 November
Musical instrument making from recycled materials: In this session we made rainsticks from cardboard tubes and dowling.

Wednesday 6 December
Pettmans: In this session an image of the Pettmans building was cut into equal parts and given to each child to recreate; colour in/ add things to, using drawing materials. The images were reassembled into a whole and displayed.

Wednesday 13 December
Christmas workshop: In this session we made Christmas themed decorations.