May 23, 2014

EcoArt Project - Woodland Creatures

Pupils from Whitefield Academy will be exhibiting EcoART at St. Mary’s Church, Walthamstow. Inspired by local artist Michelle Reader who has been working with pupils to develop a fresh view of the world by designing and creating sculpture from recycled materials. 

Guest blogger Brigitte Antal finds out more...

How exciting, I'm back in the art room today. This time not to run a workshop, but to interview Art Coordinator Peter Whelan and guest artist Michelle Reader. 

I spotted the ''Galaxy'' we created with the kids in 2012 for their Science Week and remembered so many smiley faces gathered around the finished pieces.

The art room's inhabitants are now Michelle's enchanting woodland eco-creatures, created by pupils of various ages and abilities. 

Let's find out more about how they were created. 

Peter Whelan on Michelle Reader and her contribution to pupils' development at Whitefield Academy:

''The reason why Michelle got called back so many times is the unique way in which she can adapt to the very different levels of abilities in a group, the fact that she's very flexible, as well as the niche art that she specialises in which is recycled art. 
Michelle started working with us at a time when Whitefield was becoming more environmentally conscious. We just didn't want to create piles of rubbish while creating the art and we wanted pupils to see the potential in discarded materials.

Old furniture was transformed into totems, old paper and plastic was turned into a giant dragon for St George's day''

At first pupils were creating with the materials provided but later on they would turn up with a pair of gloves and with a clear idea on how to use them in the project. Peter thinks  Michelle's success  is also linked to how accessible her work is for people and especially for pupils whose vision or hearing is impaired. Many of the pupils won't be able to conceptualise what they need to draw and repeat it but they readily join Michelle in connecting elements and enjoy discovering the sensory messages that they can create. This process has a great impact on their cognitive development.

Michelle on her experience at Whitefield Academy and the opportunity to create something special for the E17 Art Trail this year:

"Having enthusiastic teachers and support staff involved, as I do at Whitefield,  is a great help when it comes to overseeing the work of a group with a wide range of different levels of engaging. I have worked with Peter and the pupils on various projects for years, but this is the first time we've had the opportunity to create something specifically for the E17 Art Trail. The new dates allowed a lot more preparation and it's also an exciting prospect to be creating for a set space - St Mary's churchyard.  Following this year's theme 'inhabit' we were inspired by the creatures who might be inhabiting the yard."

The exhibition is aimed at small children and families and you can visit every day for the full length of the festival. You can see Michelle's own work at the E17 Art House and Blackhorse Studios in Walthamstow, please refer to the Guide for opening hours.

I thought I'd show you one more lovely piece of work that Michelle offered help with. A very old panel with pupils' photos was given a new lease of life by adding a clay relief to create the school's logo. 
Another great example of how a guest artist can be part of a school's life. 

Listing no.110 in the guide: Click here for more information.

For more from Brigitte, see the E17 Art Trail Schoolyard blog aimed at teachers and students. 

No comments: