In-between the ongoing house renovation, I nipped up to London for a week to run an Arts Week for the KS1 classes in a school. The children were aged 4-7, and I had 270 of them over a week to create 3 large pieces that could be kept on permanent exhibition in the school. This seems to have become an annual event, and although it is the most hectic and pressured timescale, I absolutely LOVE doing it. The only downside is the amount of stooping I have to do to get down to their level, plus trying not to touch heads in case I catch nits. So far no nits, and Pilates sorted out my aching back and knees.
This was done by 90 children in Year 2 (ages 6-7) over one and half days. They were staggered into groups of 6 throughout their allocated times. We took the artist Paul Klee as a starting point, and looked at his landscapes. I love his little villages and towns. We showed the children his work, talked about his art, and we broke down his style into a series of shapes and perspective tricks so they could get inspired to create.
The children started by hand printing miles of coloured paper and card with patterns in acrylic paint. These were then cut up into various sized rectangles, squares, triangles and semi circles. A huge MDF board was primed, and a basic sky painted and sponged onto it.
The fun then began when we got the children to work out a staggered townscape. They had to think about perspective, layering, scale and so on, and work from the back of the town forward as they created a collage of the shapes. Finally they added embellishments with inks and created line drawings on top to enhance the details of the buildings.
Finally the piece looked like this, brilliant and colourful, the children named it ‘City of Lights’.
This was with the smallest children, again 90 of them aged 4-5. A challenge, but they did really well. We took Picasso and Cubism as our topic, and they learned about him prior to us making their piece. We made a copy of ‘Girl with Red Beret’ (1911), and instead of paints we used scrap materials and junk to create a 3D collage. This is the original.
We started out with a huge canvas, and prior to arriving at the school used an OHP to trace the image. The children then used colour wash to mark out the colours in each area so they would know what to match later.
Then it was a question of sorting all of the scrap materials into colour piles. We had fabrics, string, ribbons, beads, buttons, wadding, netting, wool, raffia, felt and more in a rainbow of colours. Children had to try and match the colours to put them into the appropriate place on the canvas.
A huge amount of PVA was used, plus heavier bits were attached by a hot glue gun,(by me, not the children!).
This is the final result:
For the 90 children aged 5-6, we planned a sculpture based on the work of Barbara Hepworth. The children learnt about her inspiration from the shapes of nature, and we planned a version of one of her works.
Unlike Hepworth, bronze and metal were not really the right materials for little ones to work with! So we used wire and plaster instead. The armature was made in advance from wires and mesh, in an oval shape with a hole going through the middle planned.
The edges were very sharp, so we wrapped the skeleton of the piece in lots of bubble wrap.
Once with the children, we started to cover it in plaster modroc. This took place over 5 days so that each layer had time to dry. Finally, liquid stucco plaster was smoothed over the exterior. The children did all of this themselves, hence the somewhat loss of smoothness from the original armature, but that just makes it more of their own piece I think.
We then painted it with a black base coat with verdigris effect on the inside, and a bronze effect on the outside. We used a variety of acrylics and stippling techniques, the children did a beautiful job.
The final piece had copper wires set into the interior, transversing the space. The result makes the piece look really solid and heavy, and the children were so proud of their work.
So a very successful week… the school have great work made by the children on permanent display, they got to make some epic scale works and learn about the artists, and I had a blast! Also, our studio in the school doubled as the after-school club, so we had to vacate every day promptly at 3.15. That only meant one thing to while away the rest of the time… nipping into central London each afternoon and evening for some well-earned relaxation!