My School Playground
This programme gives pupils the opportunity to have a real impact on their environment by integrating the arts into their school culture through a 1-month artist residency. The residency consists of series of participatory workshops based on the artist's initial proposal.
During the first two weeks, a professional artist works alongside the school community to creatively explore the school environment through a series of workshops as it relates to the initial design idea. Workshops will then develop the design, introducing various techniques and media, art history examples and their personal vision. These series are tailored to suit the specific needs of the school, by picking the subject matter, materials and hours most relevant to them.
Over the next two weeks, the children will create the piece – usually a sculpture or mural – under the direction of the artist.
For each school, we specially commission established professionals with their own unique style and experience of engaging with children in an educational setting. Our approach is to let the artist give a general direction to the workshops, at the same time encouraging creative input from pupils both at the stage of developing the design and – most importantly – in the practical work of creating the art piece itself.
The project helps pupils develop visual perception and literacy, creative thinking, teamwork, initiative, concentration and responsibility by taking them through the entire creative process. By producing a tangible art piece, My School Playground encourages a sense of ownership and belonging within the learning environment and ensures a living legacy, which will inspire future generations of students.
In November - December 2014 openspace commissioned the artists, as well as devised and managed the programme in the schools of Barking and Dagenham (east London).
You can read a report by The Barking and Dagenham Post here: Meet the Children Turning Their Playgrounds into Art.
Megan Broadmeadow held workshops as part of My School Playground project in Marks Gate Junior School.
Megan studied fine art in Goldsmiths College and Slade School of Art, her background is in sculpture and performance. She has been voted for MASTARs 2014 - a prestigious selection of artists to watch from MA degrees shows across the UK. Apart from her art practice, Megan is an experienced educator: she recently finished her 8-month contract as a workshop leader for Art & Heritage in Conwy (Celf Treftadol Conwy) Programme in Wales.
This is what Megan says about her concept:
"Using the design and notion of a journey through a game, Level Playing Field is a platform game brought to life which the children can play from start to finish or find their own way to navigate and explore during break times.
The game incorporates the idea of learning and levels of excellence achieved at school by taking the motto “reach for the stars” as its inspiration; resulting in a game that takes starts as a journey from home and ends way up high in the galaxy.
The playground is painted with a series of stylized coloured blocks which mimic those found in video games. These will be numbered and connected by small paintings that will act as stepping stones, leading to areas I call game zones in which activities such as hopscotch, ball games or mazes can be played. The aim is that the whole playground becomes a large- scale game which can be played from start to end, or can be navigated in a number of different ways".
"The children designed and created a series of scenes and elements for this game. As there are lots of stepping-stones and elements to the design, there were spaces for some of the pupil’s individual drawings to be painted permanently into the game, and groups of pupils also decided on and design of the main game zones.
As it is based on a platform game, I encouraged the paintings to be made in the style of pixels. By using 'pixels' and a grid system to draw the designs the children learnt about how computers create images and be able to put some maths skills to
practical use. This way of working meant that everyone could feel included as working in this way has less emphasis on technical ability in drawing and painting. Its also a methodology that can give all the pupils a sense of achievement as it can be picked up quickly and provide great results in a short time. Working with a more restricted colour pallet based on the schools colours also provided a chance for the pupils to learn about how colours are formed and introduce learning about colour wheels and mixing colours too."
Charlie Kirkham led workshops in Marsh Green Primary School.
With interests ranging from performance, portraiture and oil painting to mixed media, ink works and graffiti, Charlie exhibits widely across the UK. In 2014 Charlie was elected the The Drawing Society (SGFA) Council member, the youngest in their history. Previously she conducted art workshops for Tamworth Borough Council and the Merton Council Family Learning Festival.
"The concept of the design focussed on creating an imaginary habitat for all the creatures the children had been learning about, both through their book "Eye of the Wolf" and through projects on the rainforest and habitats throughout the world.
I wanted Year 6 to have as much involvement as possible in the design and painting process. The playground is a space that the children use to play in, obvious as it sounds I wanted to keep that in mind and create something that focussed on colour, play and fun. Thinking about the eye level of the different pupils was important.
For the younger Year 1 -3 pupils having the flowers, fishes, hedgehog and scorpion on their level helped them feel included. The lily pads which we painted across the ramp/water section were already being used for "jumping to avoid the fishes" by some of the younger pupils as we finished painting the wall.
The initial designs included a shark but this was replaced by a second dolphin at the request of some of the younger children.
For Year 6 taking the responsibility to create something for the school gave them a sense of achievement. They all really responded to the idea and loved the practical part (getting very messy!). Within the year group there was a range of abilities. The coral reef sponging and use of stencils allowed even the less confident children to be involved.
As the project wound up the two classes were mixed so children worked with others they would not normally be paired with. This allowed a lot of cross-pollination of ideas and learning. I was really impressed to see how pupils shared their new knowledge of drawing, sponging, painting, stencilling and colour mixing with each other. "
Keziah, Year 6: "I had to draw the fish than I had to paint orange. There was no orange so I had to paint it yellow and red mixed together. What I liked ... was the drawing of the lioness because that is where I found my confidence in art. My favourite part was also working with other people because I do not often work with certain people in the class."
Mimi, Year 6: "I learnt that you need to be very careful with paint, in addition I learnt that you need to pay attention to detail even if you are doing a little drawing or a huge painting".
Nour, Year 6: "Charlie taught us how to draw a picture with gridlines and we enjoyed doing artwork with her. She also showed us how to make collage with newspapers. In the playground near the office, Charlie took us outside in groups to paint on the walls. I now feel like I can paint beautifully".
Singh, Year 6: "Thank you for coming to our school and helping us enjoy art in many different ways. I've learnt to draw with coordinates and to paint well, you have inspired me to become an artist".
Tahira, year 6: "Charlie was really fun and I hope we can do art work with her again. My job was to paint the ocean, and do coral and a few fishes. We got paint all over us everywhere but at least we had our old clothes. Before we could fill the most of the outside we had to draw with chalk. In my honest opinion the painting looks beautiful it really stands out."
Emma Scutt worked in William Bellamy Primary School, Years 3-4.
A Walthamstow-based muralist, illustrator and portrait artist, Emma has 9 years of experience of painting murals in schools.
“These workshops allow me the chance not only to discuss possible themes and have fun developing ideas together, but to help assess individual strengths and creative skill levels, so that I can assign the best role suited to each particular child, helping to increase their confidence and bring out the best possible creative outcome, both for their experience and for the final mural painting”.
In William Bellamy each class is assigned a colour and a name in one of the languages spoken by the pupils (English, French, Portuguese, Bengali and Lithuanian). For instance, Year 5 colour is purple, name - Beguni (purple in Bengali).
"The idea is for seven coloured paths, representing each school year, to flow from the edges of the surrounding buildings and meet and intertwine in the middle. The paths represent the journey the children take through the school years, and each one has the year’s colour written in the five languages spoken by the children. The paths are surrounded by many different shapes, each of which is filled with paintings by the children depicting their favourite subjects at school, and the qualities they like best about their school”.
Emma Scutt with her class
Jo Preston, Head Teacher, about My School Playground: "Thank you for delivering this exciting project at the school, the children and staff have really enjoyed the whole process, from beginning to end, and our playground looks amazing!"