May 1, 2012
We reported in the March THF newsletter on the Olympic Banner project and last month saw the greatest number of Helen Foundation sponsored workshops in schools for any one calendar month in its history. To remind you of the project itself: the Devon Arts In Schools Initiative – DAISI – organised an ambitious Devon-wide project to bring artists into schools to work with children to create large banners (3m x 1m) that will hang in Exeter Cathedral in May to celebrate the coming of the Olympic Flame to the city.
This is part of the nationwide celebration of the Olympics and the wider cultural Olympiad that seeks to explore and promote the Olympic ideals in a wide variety of cultural forms. The Devon school banners – all professionally printed onto vinyl – will be suspended from the pillars in the nave of the cathedral to form a colourful and artistic dimension to the welcome to be given to the arrival of the flame.
Schools across Devon took part and with the extra subsidy that THF was able to give schools in Teignbridge, more than a third of all the banners will come from Teignbridge schools.
The results so far have been stunning! Practising artists worked with the children in each school to explore how the children responded to the Olympic ideals in the Olympics and Paralympics – excellence, friendship, respect, determination, inspiration, courage – and what this major global event meant to them. The children were then encouraged by the artists to turn these ideas into designs for their school’s banner. They used a wide variety of media to create their original banners and the results have been been a joy to witness. The children have clearly enjoyed it!
The schools involved in Teignbridge include: Doddiscombsleigh, Denbury, Ide, Rydon and Widecombe and all ten schools in the Dawlish Learning Partnership: Cockwood, Dawlish Community College, Exminster, Gatehouse, Kenn, Kenton, Oaklands Park, Ratcliffe, Starcross and Westcliff. (See separate article below.) Teachers and artists have reported very favourably on the experience of the project in the schools. Here’s our first selection of images and comments:
“We are writing to thank THF for its contribution towards Cockwood Olympic banner Cockwood School taking part with DAISI artist Ali Roscoe on the Olympic Banner project at Starcross School. It was a fantastic day and the children experienced marbling and working with silhouettes to create a strong visual picture of the class interpretation of the word EXCELLENCE.
“The children worked terrifically well together to produce a banner …to convey the Olympic values of FRIENDSHIP and RESPECT.”
Friend of THF, Shirley Joyce, visited the school and writes:
“We really enjoyed our visit to the school and the children certainly enjoyed the day. We were impressed by their knowledge of the Olympics and the variety of sports depicted. There was a lot of glue and I cringed for their poor mums – when I saw one lad rubbing his hands down his trousers to clean off the glue – but the teacher assured me it washes off!”
In May, alongside banners from schools across Devon, the Teignbridge school banners (all professionally printed onto vinyl) will be suspended from the pillars in the nave of Exeter Cathedral to form a colourful and artistic dimension to the welcome to the Olympic flame to central Exeter.
Feedback from the project continues to pour in. Artist Ruth Oakley worked in a number of schools and writes of her work with Exminster and Kenn: “15 children of various ages from each school collected at Exminster to make the banners. The children did some beautiful work and were very innovative with the materials. The mixed age group worked really well, with the older ones helping the little ones. I think they all enjoyed making new friends from a different schools. The project was well supported by staff from both schools. I think we all had a really good day.”
Decoy School staff member Emily Steer writes: “It was a wonderful day and the children absolutely loved the project. They were so inspired by the theme and really enjoyed working together alongside artist Ali Roscoe. The outcome was stunning and they were thrilled with their creation. Thank you so much for such a wonderful opportunity.
Children from Ide School made the following lovely comments:
“Thank you very much. I really enjoyed it and hope we can do something like this again.”
“I learned new techniques on using my brush and if you make mistakes you don’t need to throw it away.”
“It was fun and it was different to the art work we usually do.”
“I learned about how painting shapes in the background can look really effective.”
“My favourite thing of the day was when we got the paints out and started getting messy.”
“I liked drawing some Olympic pictures and using pastels and it was good to walk round and take in some other people’s idea of art.”