Wetheringsett School invited us to work with the whole school as part of their eco week. They were keen to create a shared large piece of art to be exhibited in the school. Before the project we agreed that the theme would be about an imaginary plant that might grow from discarded plastic bottles as they start to decompose.
The children collected sacks of plastic bottles and more Christmas sweet wrappers than we’ve ever seen gathered together in one place before, there’s something very beautiful and tactile about them en masse.
After an assembly introducing the theme the children took part in three activities. We worked with them exploring ways to transform the plastic materials into component parts of a large plant installation for the library area. The children discovered some ways of transforming the plastic bottles that we hadn’t seen used before.
Alongside this we asked the teachers to set up a large scale shared drawing allowing the children to imagine plants that might grow from the plastics. In another activity they put themselves in the position of scientists classifying the newly discovered plant and determining it’s growing needs and habits linking back into growth as a curriculum topic.
Here are a few photos of the artwork assembled in the library;
After stretching our imaginations last week this Monday we returned to close observational drawings. I gave each of the children a large piece of paper with some tiny objects scattered on it and encourage them to look closely and draw each object using mainly their fingers and wrists to make the marks. Some of the drawings were almost too tiny to see but incredibly detailed when viewed with the magnifying sheet.
We then did some charcoal mark making exercises and selected a small object to draw really large.
This time the children drew with their whole arm with sweeping gestural strokes. I encouraged them to try and draw everything they saw including the shadows.
After the session we set out the drawings on the floor for a discussion. Most of the children had enjoyed the large drawings more. We talked about how we’d used hard pencils for the small drawings and charcoal for the large. One of the girls who liked to work small said she’d like to make a huge drawing in hard pencil. This brought to mind a wall sized pen and ink drawing I’d seen in the Saatchi’s ‘Paper’ exhibition. I must take that image next week.
Burnt pizza creature living in the paper towel dispenser
Stingray inspired creature living in the soap dispenser
This one lives in the oven
The creature of the plug points
Flying creature guarding the art cupboard
Carrying on with our exploration of the room this week I asked the children to find a place in the room that was interesting to them and possible overlooked by other people. They spent a time in that space making notes and thinking about an imaginary creature that might live in that environment.
I’d brought along card and textiles thinking the children might create textile collages but some of them surprised me by immediately using the materials in a 3D way. It would have been great to have had another hour working on this because by the end of the session the children’s imaginations were overflowing with ideas about what could live in the hidden spaces of the room and were quickly trying to make these while their parents waited.
We left the artwork in situ so that other users of the room could also be drawn to these spaces.
Back to Art Club today with quite large group and an expanded workspace.
This term I want to offer activities that encourage the children to always be looking with the eyes of the artist, exploring, collecting and documenting what they see. I have decided to use the art club activity room as the place to explore and over the next four weeks we will try and look at it with fresh eyes, perhaps discover things we haven’t noticed before and make some art that will share our findings with other users of the room.
Today we started with sketchbooks. The children closed their eyes then opened them, looked around and sketched the first few things they saw that they felt they hadn’t seen before. We tried lying on our backs to get a new angle on the space.
Next each child selected a shape from the table and explored the room, recording in their sketchbook the places where they found the shape in the environment. I’ve posted the sketchbook entries of a couple of the circle collectors.
Finally we explored the room again this time using viewfinders. We’d looked at how using the viewfinder was quite similar to using an ipad to capture an image. The children used the viewfinders to focus on particular areas of interest to them and to decide what to include in their drawings. They sketched in charcoal on white and in chalk on black. Here are some of the drawings.
This mosaic was made as a community project by Risbygate Arts about 10 years ago and has been hidden away on a wall by the loos in the Abbey Gardens. Bury in Bloom were brave enough to move it to a new prominent location overlooking the Magna Carta flower bed and asked Rojo Art to look at doing some renovation work on it for the Anglia in Bloom judging.
My first inspection of it wasn’t very positive: there were about 200 tiles fallen off and a good coating of mould in parts. Strangely though, once I got started this turned into a very addictive and satisfying process. I also had the added entertainment of explaining the mosaic’s history to interested park users.
Museums of Very Tiny Objects
I’m still feeling inspired from my evening workshop with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination exploring smallness. I wanted to think about this further with art club and also explore the idea of collecting as an art form. We started the session talking about what we collect and why. All the children had fascinating collections at home and could explain why they were collecting them. I wonder if we forget our motivations as we get older. Quite a few of them were collecting things to use in their artwork and enjoyed the process of sorting and categorising. I brought lots of tiny natural objects with me; shells, rats’ jaws, scapulae, lichen, dead wasps and much more. The children selected two objects and spent some time observing them in different ways; colour, texture, shape, smell, scientifically, by language, habitat, preferences. They then talked to a partner about the similarities and differences between their chosen objects. They spent a lot longer than I expected doing this and also created charts and diagrams to explain their findings. After reflecting on the first part of their collection they then selected another three artefacts to build their museum collection. I’d brought a long materials for simple construction so that the children could build an exhibit or mini museum to show their collection. Most of them opted for a hanging display so that the objects could be handled easily. Some liked the idea of semi concealing their display to add surprise and drama to the experience.
I’m going to try out this project with a different art club next Tuesday so hopefully will have some museum photos then and probably a very different take on it.
As Rojo Art Projects CIC we’re currently developing ideas for a heritage and arts project in Bury St Edmunds centred around a walking exploration of hidden water in the town.
Sometimes the River Lark and Water Meadows take a back seat in the landscape and how often do we question the history behind street names such as Well St, Pump Lane and Raingate St. We would like to work with local people exploring the heritage of these enigmatic names and places through performing and visual arts leaving in place a walking trail that helps us view our town from a different perspective.
If you have any stories or information that you’d like to share with us please get in touch by email firstname.lastname@example.org or of course you can also contact us via Twitter or Facebook if you prefer. Any water based stories are of interest, they don’t have to be from the distant past.
We’re be posting water related snippets on this blog so follow us if you’d like to keep up to date. In the meantime I reckon this must be the highest body of water in the town.
This was a day long project working with years 3 and 4. The children had been studying mini-beasts and we were asked to work with them to create giant mini beasts from recycled plastics with emphasis on a scientific approach. We decided to split the day into three processes: sculpting the bodies from plastic fencing, creating an exoskeleton and wings from flat plastics sealed into stickyback plastic and finally threading cut bottles and bottletops to make flowers and legs. The children worked in teams throughout the day making joint decisions on design and mirroring activity to achieve symmetry. At the end of the day the very helpful caretaker managing to install the huge mini beasts high onto the wall. Here are some photos that don’t really do justice to the children’s work. Hopefully we’ll get some better ones soon.
The end of our ‘journeys to school’ project. This week the children thought about the surfaces they travel across on the way to school then created textured footprints to convey the feel and look of roads, paths, fields and mud. They then carried on experimenting with animal footprints.
I’d intended to work with them creating a huge map of their journeys to school using all the artwork we’d created in this project. In reality, there was so much to explore with the travel textures that we ended up exhibiting all the artwork on the classroom floor at the end of the session.
I feel that during this project the children have closely observed and thought about their journeys sometimes using them as a start of an fantastical narrative. At the end of this session the children invited their parents to view their art and talked them through their personal view of the daily school run.
A chaotic day at art club today as we were sharing our space with all the parents in for book day. Last weekend I’d been at Tate Britain exploring ways of creating trails using digital technology and I wanted to play with some of the ideas for our ‘Journeys to School’ theme.
So this week I decided that as part of our large trail we’d create some stories about imaginary events on the way to school. The children started by drawing rough stories thinking about place, character, something they find and what happens and how the story ends.
I’d made some concertina books for them to work in and after working with some rough stories they set about recreating them using fabric collage and oil pastels. Sometimes the fabrics themselves took the stories in a whole new direction particularly when Sebastian discovered the tiger fur and feathers.
Week Two of Art Club and the second week of journeys. The children have been looking carefully on their journeys to school and this week started by sharing some things they had noticed. Rosie had seen a dead pheasant this morning and other people noticed familiar people, buildings and vehicles.
I showed some photos of an artist who draws entire cityscapes from memory and we talked about how we might remember a place in so much detail. The children started describing the landscape of their journeys starting with the immediate surroundings of their home then moving through their journey.
Working on long lengths of paper they started to draw what they remembered moving into finer detail as they progressed.
As an extra activity we used some natural materials to create tree prints to add to the drawings.