So: Our brief is to make an art installation with the whole school. We inspire a class of 25 pupils, who pass on enthusiasm and skills to the rest of the school who all contribute to a final work. This installation should ‘pop up’ in a public place and be more of a staged event (not the school hall). When I say we, I am paired with another artist. In this case it is an illustrator, a new member of the of the Animate team.
Our external venue is St. Laurence Church in Ramsgate. Ellington Infant School have been working on elements of the installation for two weeks. We have a day to install the final show with the children in the church. The parish administrator has been very helpful allowing access, things being moved around the church and generally being very accommodating. For 3 days in a row the church hosted our show ‘The Woodland’ inspired by the Lost Words, a book taking root in schools all over the country.
It was a full on day and working with my new partner I can see how patient she is with the children, how accommodating and generally enables them to achieve. She is also a team player and at the end of the day she is really up for the last lap which is to get this ready for viewing, and by 5.30pm we are out. Its refreshing working with new people as inevitably we approach things differently. I would describe our working relationship as chalk and cheese. Our cardboard walk through woodland seems to genuinely surprise visitors to the church as much more than a display made by school children. Feed back comments included ‘get it into Tate Modern’, which made me smile. The children were very excited to see their work and how it all came together. Another neighbouring school brought all their pupils to the church to see the work.
From a personal perspective I feel satisfaction in knowing this show has exceeded expectations from all those involved. The viewers, the schools, the church, the teachers and the pupils. I hope stake holders and funders can see the value of what #artbuilders is achieving. This description is only one of eight art events being delivered in Kent (particularly Thanet) Schools in June.
Today I spent the morning alone in the church and dismantled the whole thing. As I started removing each flower, each bird, each animal. As I took the branches off the trees I could see every leaf, seeing the work in a new way I was reminded of an observation by my partner on this project Esther Coombes which seemed particularly relevant – and she is right to say that it’s the detail. Every element has been created and there are countless dozens, hundreds of examples of little successes, little construction and design problems solved, visions in the minds eye made real. Ideas transformed into tangible models and representations. Little creative journeys depicting things we all know, but they come out with characteristics and quirks that make so many of them charming.