One of our Artist Educators, Giulia Ricci, is running a long-term programme of workshops at William Tyndale Primary School in which she is working with pupils and staff to explore the theme of pattern, practically and conceptually:
“During the summer term at William Tyndale Primary School I worked with the two year 4 classes on a project that lasted twelve sessions. We used sketchbooks to document the project and make notes and sketches in it.
The art project started out in close connection with hieroglyphics, an important aspect of the Ancient Egypt project that the teachers taught throughout the term. We looked at relevant hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt; we looked at cartouche and considered the wider concept of symbol and the relationship between pictures and meaning, taking into consideration also contemporary aspects of visual culture, such as logos. We brainstormed the concept of symbol and used the mind-map produced as a reference throughout the project.
We then visited the British Museum and analysed, in context, the symbols and hieroglyphics seen in school; we also tried to look for new ones and analysed them in the classroom, trying to establish possible relationship between the image and its meaning.
The children were then asked to design a symbol (a sort of cartouche) that represented themselves individually, including a minimum number of different aspects, which could relate to a very wide variety of things, such as culture, religion, personal interests, hobbies, sports etc. They had to merge the interests into one symbol and could also use words, initials and colours as ways to represent themselves.
We tried to keep symbols as essential and meaningful as possible, so we tried to re-work the designs with various techniques that could encourage and enhance boldness and simplicity, such as continuous line drawing, large crayons and collage.
After this, we did a series of skills-based workshops in which each child produced prints (with Styrofoam and with screen printing) and a soap carving of their symbol with inlay of plasticine. Changing techniques and ideas development brought interesting modifications to some of the designs; for instance, the soap carving allowed for the symbol to be articulated over the six sides of the soap bar.
The last three sessions of the project were dedicated to working as a group to produce a group symbol; children worked in groups of around 4-5. We tried to encourage diversity within groups of children that would naturally get along well together.
Each group was asked to write individual lists of personal aspects they wanted to include in the symbol; then each group drafted one list including everyone’s data and we did mind-mapping with images and words around the content of the lists. These mind-maps were the starting point for designing a symbol; the groups had to include everything in the symbol and find a way to produce a cohesive image with all the meanings from the list. The final result, for each group, was a large painted poster of the group symbol; the symbols turned out to be very imaginative allegories and emblems that had a strong connection with the starting point of the project.”
Giulia Ricci 19/07/2012