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The Big Build Day.

This is the Big Build Day for Hoath and Chislet Schools coming together to create a woodland installation in the communal school yurt. This cardboard sculpture will be a walk through experience inspired by the Lost Words book by Robert Macfarlane.

We had six work stations: these were 2 designated class rooms, the yurt itself and the rest were based in the hall. We had the art leaders divided into 6 groups one at each work station. This meant a consistent team of about 4 pupils were responsible for co-ordinating that stations work. I found my self floating from group to group, but as I had a drill and hole cutting saws I naturally gravitated to the tree station were these tools seemed in higher demand.

I started with the water feature team making a stream which cascaded over a series of rocks. When the superstructure was sound and solid I left the group making rocks and stream effects with corrugated cardboard.

Next, I looked in the two class room which were well staffed and I could see well organised. As soon as I walked in an excited pupil came up to me with a newspaper fox they had made. I was genuinely surprised at how good it was. I left them making animals and went into the Yurt. This was where it would all come together. Me and Mrs Hughes worked with the art leaders to create a perimeter of gentle rolling hills which acted as a backdrop for everything that was to follow. As we got just over half way around the yurt I noticed the landscape was changing and the rolling hills were becoming mountains! Was that allowed? Are you changing the idea, do we need to go back to making hills? We had a quick democratic vote and the mountains won (easily actually). So by the end of the perimeter we had tiny ski lodges on the slopes and it looked like the Alps. The suggestion it was the Scottish Highlands made it indigenous and everyone was happy then.

I was getting urgent messages towards the end of the morning to come to the tree station WITH TOOLS. So I spent the afternoon making trees. Thougherly enjoyed my afternoon drilling and sawing thick carpet tubes for the trees. I worked next to the head teacher who was right in the thick of the melee of pupils, making branches and leaves. The branches made went into the holes I cut on the tree trunks. Some branches were rather limp and gravity was winning, seeing them slowly sag downwards. She poked the branches into the holes and selotaped then in place with a figure eight style wrapping which put me in mind of hospitals, bandages sprained ankles and Plaster of Paris casts for broken limbs! The branches she put in were rock solid and very robust. I asked her if she had been a nurse? She said no, but she had done a lot of first aid.

Now everything was being carried to the yurt for assembling together. This went much smoother than expected considering how many children were involved. Except for my entrance feature which was going to be extremely tall trees and visible across the school site. I banged in what I call ‘pig sticks’ into the grass with my club hammer. These are metal bars 4-5 feet tall used to cordon off areas on building sites with orange netting. I was going to slide my tall trees made with carpet tubes which were probably over 3 meters high trees onto the sticks so they stood up. Two of these either side of the path with branches above so you could walk underneath, an entrance arch.

What could possibly go wrong? Nothing I thought confidently.

But I had used the longer carpet tubes which were narrower than all the others. The shorter wider tubes would have been better as these slide over the twist of metal at the top of the pig stick. However, my tubes were narrower and did not fit over this twist of metal. #Gutted.

I have to say Mrs Mogg masterminded and pulled off this ambitious double school creative bonanza.