Ebb & Flow Schools Workshops

Five half-day workshops were presented individually for Snape CP School, Benhall St Mary's CEVCP School and Coldfair Green Primary schools. The workshops took place spread over the period from March 2008 to the end of the summer term. I point out I am an artist and not a qualified teacher and I see my role as to enabling the school and staff to undertake these art workshops, while wherever possible offering an open and cross curriculum learning experience.

Workshop 1: Mapping exercise Based around drawing this was a way to link the archaeological workshops with the art workshops and to see what the children thought about Ebb and Flow. Looking at aerial photographs and drawn maps of the area it was an exercise in spatial awareness and interpreting what they knew on the ground (having visited a number of archaeological sites) and how to transfer photographic information into a drawing. Starting with a small piece of paper the children make a start on their drawing, I then stick on another small sheet asking for the drawing to extend onto that. This continues until each child creates a large composite map.

Workshop2: Introduction to working life of an Artist Set up as a pre-prepared questions and answers illustrated talk into the life of an artist I spoke about my own experience. The good and bad points and the different ways an artist generates an income. We also spoke of the role the arts play in society, from popular culture to so called high culture. I then use the three artworks I had proposed for the Sailors path as case studies of how an artist develops ideas and caries through a project. The children where then incorporated into this process and helped by each making a couple of the ceramic cones. Comment was passed that it was unusual for the children to have the opportunity to work with such large amounts of clay.

Workshop 3: Patterns From the starting point of Ebb & Flow in the river this workshop looked at natural cycles as patterns, developing into patterns in nature and cultural patterns. This was picked up in the importance of pattern in thought and process, with each child folding a sculptural paper bird, which brought together created a larger flock of birds to hang in the classroom. Using computer audio software we also looked at pattern in sound, overlaying simple clapping patterns and looked at other computer-generated pattern animations. The session was finished off considering pattern in painting, such as Jackson Pollock and Damien Hirst. The children then did their own ‘spin’ paintings, ‘drip’ paintings and ‘squish’ symmetry paintings.

Workshop 4: Art Nature and Culture This workshop was based around making, particularly the craft of working with natural materials. Fist looking at the sort of things that are made in the natural word, like weaverbird nests, paper wasp nests, potter wasp nests, silk worm cocoons. We then look at man made objects such as baskets, pots, paper making, felted textiles and woven textiles. With this information the children undertook three practical projects. Papermaking, felt bead making and basket weaving – using card. Simple card looms where also available to see the similarities between textile weaving and basket weaving.

Workshop 5: Walking the path The last workshop took place on the Sailors path. We walked part of the path seeing two of the three sculptures, especially ‘Crossed Paths’, the artwork the children had helped with. Along the route we stopped off to do some environmental art interventions, making use of the materials around us. In particular we looked at contrast, thinking about contrast in our own lives but also how in simple terms one material, or colour or texture can be contrasted against another.

Children’s Feedback

“It has been the best year I have had. It was fantastic when we had a real artist.”

“I have enjoyed the activities but I think the origami birds were really challenging.”

“My favourite thing has to be making clay pots because I love touching clay and I like being creative and I feel proud that everyone can see our art work on the field.”

“It was good to see our own pots in the field and it made me very proud to see all our wonderful work in there for everyone to see when they walked past.”

“My favourite activity was the walk on the sailor’s path and the drawings on the floor.”

“My favourite activity was the spin painting because you make really strange patterns.”

“Our favourite was making felt balls. I was really good at making them and afterwards my hands were as clean as my plates are when they are washed.”

“The hardest activity is the basket weaving because, we kept getting into a muddle and the pieces of paper went all over the place! But in the end it turned out into a tremendous, marvellous and a fabulous basket! I do wish that we could do that again with you because it was so much fun!”

“My favourite activities were making clay cones because it felt like we were real hard working potters, basket making because it was very fiddly and finding out about your job and different types of art.”

“My favourite activities was all of them they were fantastic.”

“We won’t forget every thing we have done with you. We will treasure it for the rest of our lives!”

“I wish that there were more ebb + flow to come so that we can do more artwork.”