Last week I had a full-on couple of days at a huge school in Surrey – Collingwood College. I knew it was going to be busy – the project was two days in school with 260 Year 9 pupils spread over 10 lessons, so about 55 min each. It was alongside a dancer doing Brazilian dancing and also Ravin Jayasuriya from One Voice Music doing drumming workshop – the aim being that the students could wear their headdresses as they drummed or danced! It was all part of a whole college Enterprise Week.
I spent time in the studio making a mock up and a lot of what I found was that was card and layered paper was needed together to give strength to make the headdresses stand up. At heart it was about construction and paper engineering. I knew too with those numbers that it would need to be component based that allowed for customisation, so I made a headdress in three main parts and then the addition of cut paper feathers. With so many coming through PVA glue wasn't the answer for sticking together, so I ordered a load of staplers and double sided tape and Selotape so that the pieces could be put together quickly and cleanly, with the students able to take them away straight away and wear them.
WHAT THE STUDENTS MADE......
The headdresses worked fantastically well. All the students were engaged and made a piece, but what was magical was just how many wore them straight away around school and wanted group pics taken. It was really magical to see, especially with the Year 9 boys. I think the project worked so well as it gave then permission for be organically creative, but also have a pattern to follow so that success was guaranteed too. It worked so well too because it involved team work, individual learning and hand eye coordination, team work, paper engineering to work out how to support shapes and weight and brought them together as a a class.
Have a look at the some of the 260 that were made!
Over the two days we got the delivery of the lesson down to a fine art. The head of art – Kathy Witt would introduce me and then I would deliver the lesson and then the head of art or class teacher wrapping up with discussion evaluation and gallery. I was so impressed with the department. There wasn't really a house style...lots of varied and broad work on show. The staff too were incredibly friendly and just lovely to work with. It was all very concentrated but I was able to talk to all the students about being an artist and what I do and the art teachers were really glad to have me as a real live artist in the room.