An artist and art educator project to celebrate and promote diversity, inclusion and the school’s Eco-school status. The project included all of the staff and student team and worked with recycled materials in innovative ways. Sheets of highly coloured recycled wellington boots were chosen for the kinetic sculpture, whilst more rigid sheets of plastic made from yoghurt pots, mobile phone casings and plastic coffee cups were used for the low relief wall sculptures.
The Art Project
St Andrew’s CE Primary School, Hove East Sussex.
The Art Project was a response to a Percent for Art funded Public Art Commission, managed by Brighton & Hove City Council’s Art & Creative Industries, which arose from a supermarket development very close to St. Andrew’s Primary School in Hove. The school had very strong ideas about the kind of piece they wanted in their school. Headteacher Cathy Moore said:
“Having attended a meeting to hear about our requirements, we were very impressed that Stig and Janette submitted a proposal that was very individual to our school…they paid high regard to our brief that the project should be consistent with the Christian ethos of the school, should be in keeping with our status as an Eco school and should recognise the inclusive and multicultural nature of our school community”.
The proposal that artist and teacher partnership Stig Evans and Janette Cullen came up with, used the motif of hands and birds. They proposed two main pieces: a kinetic mobile using sheets of recycled Wellington boots to hang in the double space atrium and a low relief sculpture to join the lower and upper corridor made from sheets of recycled yoghurt pot and mobile phone casings.
Each workshop was themed around the motifs and took place over five weeks in the summer term, each year group having a specific workshop to work alongside Stig and Janette in class.
Reception classes looked at PowerPoint images of early cave paintings as well as Yves Klein’s pigment paintings and Richard Long’s work. Working in twos they used primary watercolours to make positive and negative handprints. This was then developed by Stig into a collaborative piece using all the children’s hands airbrushed onto canvas.
Year 1 continued this theme and extended it using pattern. Looking at examples of multi cultural patterns, they then made their own designs. This was then put onto press print and printed onto one large canvas using their hands. Throughout the workshop, emphasis was placed on co-operative working in pairs and time to evaluate and discuss was valued.
The focus of Year 2s workshop was to explore textures. After looking at examples of Max Ernst’s frottages, they made some observational drawings of their hands and considered all the patterns and textures. They then collected textures and rubbings to use to represent different patterns of their hands.
Year 3 workshops focussed on the use of text in art and took as inspiration works by Tom Phillips. Working in groups of five, each group considered things that might be achieved by their hands. One group had the beginning of the sentence “With these hands I will…” another “With these hands I can…” etc. and were set the task of composing a group poem. Each member had to contribute a line. Each line was to be placed on each finger of a hand. It was also an opportunity to explore the different languages that were spoken throughout the school. Words of welcome were written in Braille onto coloured acetates that were then placed onto the finished low relief sculpture.
The Year 4 workshops were, with hindsight, possibly the most successful workshops. The process was very close to Stig’s studio practise in designing the sculpture and the children’s’ designs directly informed the kinetic sculpture made from recycled sheet Wellington boots. After looking at examples of Brancusi’s sculptures and the way in which Braque and Picasso had used stylized and abstracted forms of birds, the children followed an observational drawing workshop using stuffed birds. Working from their initial drawings, they simplified and abstracted their work. From these, they made card templates that were then used in a group mobile. They had to solve problems of balance, aesthetics from 360 degrees and the problems of working in a group.
Observational drawing, maquette making, final art work made from recycled wellies
Year 5 and 6 workshops used photography to explore identity, aspiration and gesture. Year 5 looked at the genre of portraiture to explore identity, specifically the work of Cindy Sherman. After discussing in pairs how they would like to represent themselves, they sketched their idea for a portrait. They then session photographed each other in their props and outfits. They then made a frame for their portrait using hand gestures using the shadow from an OHP.
Year 6 were given a design brief to work towards in groups. They had to produce a photographic image using their hands to represent the school’s mission statement. They discussed the work of Gilbert & George and Andy Warhol. Once they had taken their photographs they worked with Stig using ‘Photoshop’ to manipulate their images. Each group then had to teach the next group what they had learnt. The images were then printed out onto ‘Lazertan’ and applied to a large canvas, which now greets visitors to the school in the school’s foyer.