For the 10th year Mid Pennine Arts, funded by Todmorden Town Council, has commissioned an artist to provide a theme based workshop to all seven primary schools in Todmorden. This year the art form was visual art and the theme was Environment. Mid Pennine Arts and all the schools involved are very grateful to Todmorden Town Council for their financial support in making these wonderful workshops happen.
What follows are extracts from the project evaluation:
Before his retired in October 2013, MPA’s David Smith discussed the theme of the 2014 tour with Maria Cooper, head teacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary. Maria emphasised how involved all the schools are with environmental issues, as is Todmorden as a whole. The theme of environment would allow the artist some scope to adapt the theme for each school based on the particular topics they were addressing. As always with the artist tour the primary aims are that the workshops are enjoyed by the schools and that they will make an effective contribution to the children’s learning.
Once the theme was approved by the Town Council, MPA knew just which artist to work with. Cath Ford is a very experienced and versatile community artist who has worked with MPA on several projects and has the issue of environment at the core of her own practice.
Cath planned three activities from which each school could choose their preferred option. She would spend a day at each of the seven schools and run a two-hour workshop in the morning and afternoon. The school could choose whether to have two separate groups or one group doing both sessions. Each workshop focussed on work at Key Stage 2 which allowed the schools the choice of involving children from Year 3, 4, 5 or 6.
The overwhelmingly popular choice of activity was Eco Totem in a Day with six of the seven schools choosing it. Ferney Lee was the exception, choosing instead Scrap Sculpture and Assemblage/Trash to Treasure.
Eco Totem: Along the north-western coast of North America (America and Canada), some Native Americans create totem poles. Depicting people and animals, totems are used for different reasons in different tribes, but often tell stories, family histories or are used for protection. Totems can be used to make a statement, to tell the story of a family or group (the word originates from a word meaning ‘his kinship’) and to communicate an idea.
In this workshop pupils explored the idea of totems and how they are used to tell stories and make community statements. The class worked on faces, animals and symbols which make a powerful statement about their attitudes to the environment and to creating a more environmentally friendly world. The resulting 6 foot plus totem was then displayed in school.
Scrap Sculpture and Assemblage/Trash to Treasure: Artists throughout history have used found objects and other people’s trash to create unique and expressive art works. Artists often look differently at the world, seeing beauty in places, people and objects discarded by society. Trained artists and outsider artists create magic worlds from rubbish that enrich our world and ask questions about what is trash and what is treasure.
In this workshop pupils created temporary sculptures from scrap materials, experimenting with design and form during a series of group challenges before looking at the work of artists who create assemblage sculpture from scrap objects. Using the learning from the first challenges and looking at artists’ work, each pupil created their own piece of assemblage in the form of a face/human.
Outcomes: Cath encouraged the children to consider their own response to environmental issues throughout the workshops, discussing how their choices impacted on the environment and pollution through, for example, recycling. All the materials were sourced from a specialist scrap store, so that the children could see how items could be reused and not discarded. The children had to work in small groups and cooperate to create the final pieces, enhancing their team building and communication skills.
Facts and Figures
- Castle Hill Primary
- Cornholme Primary
- Ferny Lee Primary
- Shade Primary
- St Joseph’s RC Primary
- Todmorden Junior School
- Walsden St Peter
- Classes = 9
- Girls = 114
- Boys = 123
- Total = 237
- It was a very rewarding experience for the children. They learnt a lot, reinforced learning from other areas of the curriculum and produced a beautiful piece of art communally at the end. It also necessitated working cooperatively, solving problems and discussing solutions together.
- It was interesting to observe how to use other areas of the curriculum to inspire and create such a good piece of art that the children can be proud of.
- It was an excellent day, full of creativity, team work and ideas. I would highly recommend it.
- A fabulous job […] well timed and organised, the children had plenty of time to think and work, good balance.
- I liked the use of all the different materials and how all the parts came together to create a larger object.
- The children learnt about the benefits of recycling and how it can change the environment for the better.
- The children had to work together in small groups and cooperate to make the final product. So team work, listening and taking turns was a vital part of the project.
- Very good at raising awareness of environmental issues – ideas of being green.
- Children enjoyed group work and working as a team.
- Artist very knowledgeable and interacted with children.
- Good to see a day long workshop and how something can be taught and created in a day – good for teaching isolated topics.
- Artist was really child friendly and approachable.
- Very impressed with final product.
- Children really enjoyed the workshop.
- It felt like it meant something.
- It felt good to work as a team.
- It was really fun and creative and tells a good story.
- A super workshops and I would like to do it again.
- I liked how we used rubbish which was going to [be] thrown and we made something good out of it.
- Nice to share all our ideas with the group.
- I really liked how we had to think about which material would look the best.
- I thought it was a really creative idea.
- I like having the choice to make what I wanted.
- Was pleased to be part of the team.
- Really enjoyed working with the different materials […] enjoyed the free choice.
- I thought it was creative of Cath to get some junk and make a totem pole with [it].