Last week I was privileged to have the opportunity to work with an entire school of children, during their ‘Art Week’. Eight workshops, back to back, 200 odd artists, plus a school wide art competition culminating in an exhibition for all the parents. No mean feat and a little daunting, but a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience.
The theme of the week was ‘Recycling’ and the emphasis was to show the children that Art can be created in so many different forms and can be created out of a wide range of materials, much of which doesn’t need to cost a thing and is readily available. It’s a skill that was the general rule for the foundation of art skills a generation ago, but one that seems to be gradually disappearing in a world of ready made ‘craft packs’ that cost a fortune and require no imagination whatsoever.
Preparations began weeks ago, with detailed lesson plans written and example pieces created so that I could ensure that the tasks I was considering were age and ability appropriate. (Plus of course, there was a lot of hoarding of crushed drinks cans and yoghurt pots to be done)
The week itself was a busy, but oh so fun time. We managed to squeeze in giant format collages highlighting the plight of the British Bumble Bee, an entire ocean of tin can sea creatures, a huge newspaper hand print Christmas tree, complete with ‘rubbish’ baubles, a set of life sized Angels, an installation of ‘Wishes Upon Stars’, a plethora of dried pulses & PVA Christmas Puddings, and not to forget an entire series of fantastic portraits created entirely out of food….
The school is now looking pretty amazing, A ‘Rubbish’ Art Gallery if ever there was one! I’m very proud of the children and their achievements. More pictures can be seen here, on the school’s own website.
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The most effective Art Workshops I find, tend to be those I run in line with the particular part of the curriculum that a class might be studying at that time anyway. The Art can then enhance the learning going on across the rest of the subjects and bring the whole subject together for the children in a very enjoyable and fulfilling fashion. Luckily, one of the classes I worked with have been studying ‘Robots’ this term, writing stories about them, studying the mechanics of them, creating circuits for them…. so it was very simple for me to fit in a session that worked with their theme.
‘Rubbish Robots’ were born, where each child was given a characteristic of a robot, drawn out of a hat such as ‘A depressed Robot’, A ‘Happy Robot’ A broken Robot’….. and then set the task to create that character, as a large scale collage, completely made out of recycled domestic rubbish. The results were stunning. A collection of squashed tin cans, patches of fabric, food packaging, buttons, zips, screws and bolts took form in a sea of pva glue, to give us an army of 30 beautiful, vibrant Rubbish Robots, that our inspiration, Eric Joyner, would’ve been proud to have had in his Robot line up :-)