For a few years now, Whitworth Art Gallery has hosted a themed week that has connected to exhibitions and displays for a schools network group from the Cheshire area. Headed by Fallibroome Academy, their feeder groups ‘Art Week’ acts as a transitional project aimed towards introducing children of other schools together, before potentially moving on to Fallibroome for secondary education. Traditionally, the week has been spent at the Whitworth alone but this year we had both Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum host sessions based around the theme ‘Landmarks’ to showcase the ongoing collaboration across the Manchester Partnership. All taking a very distinct approach to ‘landmarks’, the Whitworth played its part this year by taking an outdoor learning ethos to creativity on a larger scale in our natural surroundings.
Using green willow and other natural resources, this kinesthetic learning process would gradually build over the four days with each following school adapting the previous classes work as we work towards displaying our very own landmark outcome in our park spaces.
Day one started with the visit of a reception class from Mottram, St Andrews Primary. After a brief tour of the park spaces and it’s sculptures – Wicker Ma’am, Cyprien Gaillard’s ‘Obelisk’ and King Edward VII to set the tone for the activity. Alongside our Forest Schools partners, Paupers Wood, we began by simply sticking green willow into the ground to form basic structure and from there, encouraged the children to speak out about what these shapes could transform into. Naturally, after being with Hannah Lee-Chalk at the Museum all morning, dinosaurs were quickly agreed upon as well as a ‘big den’. The reception class was also given umbrellas to make an all class structure of fab colour hanging from our trees.
The following afternoon had a group of year six’s from Bollinbrook Primary who came to the Park after another morning with Hannah, Gareth and Jack at the Museum. The focus for this class had been natural structure and particularly – bones! A stag and reindeer were then added to our growing collection of wicker landmarks whilst the dinosaur had evolved to resemble a snail.
Day three, due to weather and gale force winds, was trickier but that didn’t dampen spirits. Whilst our constructs had been blown to one side, we were gifted with an abundance of twigs, sticks and branches to help resurrect our creations. Whirley Primary had 10 minutes to run around and collect as many sticks as they could find. This activity proved to be very popular! Soon after, it became apparent that the big bundles of branches were as big an achievement than sculpting using the green willow. Questioning ‘is this big pile of natural resources now a landmark object in it’s own right?’
The last session on the forth day welcomed a special guest in artist, Lucy Burscough, creator of our wicker genesis, to come in and talk to the last class that visited from Mottram, St Andrews about her own willow creations. The children finished the work created by previous groups by adding their own touches to the sculptures. The den and dinosaur, which had undergone many transformations during the week, had included crocodiles, whales and a centipede from 2D forms into 3D structures. With nature being the teacher, playful, loud and very active – we kept warm and proved whatever the weather, season and conditions, we can together, achieve great outcomes outside.
Find out what our classes got up to at the Museum!
Mottram, St Andrews follow up session back at school. Introducing Trixie the Dinosaur!
Some feedback to share;
‘Epic’ – Reception child
‘Fantastic fun, something the children will remember’ – Parent
‘We are landmarks’ – Reception child
‘We loved it’ – Teacher
‘Thanks again for a fantastic morning and sorry about the mud in the gallery! You are all very understanding!’ – Teacher