Hannah Coulson (born 1978, Scotland) is an illustrator, painter and educator. Her practice includes writing, research and workshopping. She also co-leads ReachOutRCA at the Royal College of Art, which enables creative exchanges between young people and practitioners.
From January to July 2015, as Associate to the Tate St Ives Artists Programme, Coulson made a small number of bespoke sets of wooden and perspex shapes that can be handled, arranged and balanced in response to a series of activities relating to the artwork and architecture. Titled Tate Shapes, each bespoke kit operates as a resource for families visiting Tate St. Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Her motivation was to develop sets of objects that felt like toys. Where a sense of play and practice override a more conscious sense of action and lead to experimentation and opportunities to learn. Throughout the project Coulson has aimed to provide families with experiences that echo an artist’s approach, shedding light on the invisible, opening up new ways of looking, thinking and making in the gallery and in the world beyond. Whilst all the time undertaking this process of discovery alongside older and younger family members and in dialogue with the artwork around them.
For Coulson, the resource has been grounded in the tradition of artists, designers and educationalists including Friedrich Fröbel, Maria Montessori, Bruno Munari and Joaquín Torres García, crafting objects for children to play with. Yet it also champions the idea that you can gain a meaningful insight into others’ ways of seeing or making even when it isn’t possible to directly experience the materials they’ve used or the places they’ve responded to. It takes a constructivist approach to learning advocated by John Dewey and George Hein.
Coulson studied Visual Communication at Glasgow School of Art and Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art. She has worked for the Drawing Centre in New York, the Campaign for Drawing and the House of Illustration in London, and now co-leads ReachOutRCA, the Royal College of Art outreach programme. Coulson has also developed resources for Frieze Foundation Projects.