Great Barton Primary School Art Day

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We were invited to make art with the entire school of 220 students for a whole day this week. This is part of a week dedicated to art in the school so we were wanted to allow each child a day of making. Logistically it would be impossible to spend much time with each class so we decided to set up three activities that we would introduce in the classrooms and invite the children in small groups to draw on the background and gain an overview of the larger artwork taking shape on the wall.

The theme of an ‘enchanted forest’ was one of the school’s suggestions and we created a narrative for this by asking the children to imagine a forest growing out of thrown away plastic. We asked about the material starting a discussion about what plastic is and where does it go when we’ve finished with it. They worked with collected plastic milk containers cutting intricate patterns to create foliage. Next they studied characteristics of native birds seen around the school grounds and made preparatory sketches. In the last session we asked the children to imagine how these birds might adapt to their new surroundings and to create a bird for the installation a wide array of printed cardboard and junk mail that they had brought from home.

It was difficult to communicate collage techniques to this amount of children: some favoured small torn pieces of paper to create a texture while others could envisage images and patterns used in a new context. One of the youngest children recognised a large swirling camouflage print as a perfect beak for a ‘jungle bird’. The children that worked with the small pieces became frustrated with the slow progress and were happy to be encouraged to work with larger shapes or to focus on areas such as eyes or beak to let the image read as a bird. It’d be interesting to try this activity again in the small art club group.

The artwork was installed the same day against a backdrop of small drawn images of things that might be floating or flying in the forest air.

Bury Wolf Trail

This is a rather retrospective post as we’ve had a summer holiday offline.

In July the Bury Wolf Trail opened with twenty six wolves to discover in locations around the town centre. Five of the wolves were made by Rojo artists and we’ve added some photos below. Most of these photos were taken from Twitter as we’ve really enjoyed following the images of public interaction with the wolves and reading the numerous blog posts about the trail.

Forest Academy, Brandon

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.

Wetheringsett Primary School

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;

Electric Forest, High Lodge, Thetford

During November we worked with children from Elveden Primary, Norwich Road Primary and USAF Mildenhall to make an installation for the Electric Forest event at High Lodge in Thetford Forest. The children collected used plastic bottles and using cutting and threading techniques transformed these into enormous imagined plants. The plant was named the Junklecreeper and a story emerged about a new invasive species that grew out of the plastic bottles thrown into a pit in the forest.

After we installed the artwork Phil Supple and his team designed lighting and and a soundscape for the experience. Thousands of visitors visited Electric Forest through December to enjoying the stunning light installations and the opportunity to be out in the forest after dark.