Completion of another Creative Schools project in a primary school at St. Gabriel and St Raphael R.C. Primary School, Tonypandy. Working with fellow artist Angharad Evans, the aim was to reconnect the children with the natural environment, while enhancing literacy skills, and to create a sensory portal in a small allocated space in the school yard that would be used for story telling.
Four stories were chosen, acted out and used as inspiration for artwork: The Rainbow Snake from Australia, The Kingdom Under the Sea from Japan, The Lady of the Lake, and Picton and the Magic Staff, based on stories from Wales. The children also created a story from their experiences on trips we arranged to Barry Sidings and the Bushcraft centre in Merthyr.
Angharad showed the children how to weave the willow into a den, and I helped them to print flags and banners to represent aspects of the four stories and the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.
The Magic Portal, with prints based on the stories
Storytelling in the Portal
As part of the Lead Creative Schools scheme – a joint Arts Council of Wales and Welsh Government initiative – Year 3 children at Beaufort Hill Primary School in Ebbw Vale have been collaborating on a storytelling project. They have brought together a small group of creative practitioners to help them create their own stories based on The Greedy Zebra and The Crafty Chameleon by Mylene Hadithi, making masks, creating performances and dance. I have helped them to create four banners of their stories using a combination of cyanotype and monoprint.
For the first workshop, I asked the children to draw their impression of the stories onto acetate. I then printed the drawings onto the material back at the workshop. For the second workshop, the children created borders around the prints using a selection of leaves to print impressions in different colours onto a yellow background.
I was impressed how quickly the children picked up the stages of the printmaking: squeezing and rolling out the inks, placing their leaf carefully onto the inked plate, covering it with paper and rolling again until the ink had saturated the leaf enough to get a strong print, peeling the leaf carefully from the plate, transferring it to the banner, and rolling it again to create the impression. They worked in small teams, experimenting with colour combinations and enjoying the chance to get messy!
The finished story banners
Some of the beautiful work made by participants of the creative wellbeing sessions this week. Printing and poetry using autumn leaves.
For the past five months, I’ve been a creative practitioner in a primary school, working with a storyteller to produce a record of the stories about the local area surrounding the school. We have covered a vast time period, from the Bronze age, right up to the mid-19th century. I have been using printmaking with the children to produce flags and banners to decorate a structure in the grounds now known as the ‘Tŷ unnos’, or ‘One-Night house’. In old Welsh law, it was stated that anyone who could build a house on common ground in a night, with a fire in the hearth by morning could own the land as a freehold.
Banners and flags are interspersed all around the Tŷ unnos, drawn and printed by the children and myself in response to the tales. The map below is a record of traditional Welsh myths that Lowri shared with the children.
‘Children are remarkable for their intelligence and ardour, for their curiosity, their intolerance of shames, the clarity and ruthlessness of their vision.’
— Aldous Huxley
We began the session drawing faces, practicing on tracing paper before transferring to the styrofoam. The children quickly got the hang of etching into it, creating wonderfully detailed characters.
They were excited about seeing the progression from their drawing to being able to pull multiple prints from their etchings, and were soon confident enough to go straight into etching out their ideas.
Next, the children chose a leaf from a selection collected in the park, and attempted to name the type of tree it was from. They chose from two coloured inks that I had rolled out, printing the leaves in their own designs to create a background.
Onto this background, styrofoam stamps that the children had drawn and carefully cut out were printed to create the finished pictures. Fantastic work!
Seven gathered around the tables at Cardiff Print Workshop for a day of creating and printing. In the morning, collages were created from recycled materials, selected for the effect they would produce when inked and printed. From out of the gluing and layering, etching and sharing, scenes and shapes gradually emerged. A hare running through a forest, a sassy pineapple, boats in the mist and a lighthouse, a spider in a web. Blank white boards and shiny silver squares were transformed and transformed again as they were inked and run through the press.
Sian’s tetrapak plate and resulting prints, using parcel tape for lighter tones, sandpaper for textured bird and fence, and added plant material.
Witnessing other people’s creative work from conception to completion is as satisfying as doing my own work. Time dissolves as all are absorbed in the flow that comes with focusing on common creative goals.
A selection of prints from the day: Stevo’s bird, Sian’s pineapple, Jane’s flower, Mary’s spider and Karen’s hare.