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Village Art & Literature

Tribal crafts

Posted on August 17 2012 at 2:30:25 0 comments

Blue tribe and dreamcatcher

Hopwood-based artist Paula Hamilton attends Arts Week at a village school.

I spent a fantastic afternoon at Alvechurch Middle School on the second day of their annual Arts Week. I had never visited the school before, although I had watched it being built.

It is a very attractive place, standing on a spacious, green campus and from the moment you approach the large automatic glass doors it is clear that aesthetics were an important and integral part of the design of the building.

Right across the glass doors are etched branches of a huge tree with leaves and birds amongst its canopy. This must be a pleasant and inspirational place to come to study or work.

On entering the building it becomes clear that the arts are an important part of this school – there are some wonderful displays of children’s work and superb projects that were completed in previous Arts Weeks, like the two huge batik paintings that are prominently displayed. 

So what was going on in Arts Week 2012? The answer to that is “lots of everything!”

The starting point this year was “Tribe” and I began my visit by looking at a PowerPoint presentation about tribes: what they represent, examples of tribes such as Australian Aborigines and native North Americans, and visual imagery to trigger the imagination.

From this starting point, children were drawing and designing and turning these designs into a beautiful circular ceramic piece of art and also a stunning mosaic assemblage. 

In an upstairs classroom children were working on a weaving project, making dream catchers and other woven circular and hexagonal pieces. There was a room where Aboriginal “Dream Paintings” were happening – lovely earthy colours and animal motifs, all worked in dots.

There was flag design too, related to the school house system, so school “tribes” were very much in evidence. Each house has its own colour and name and pupils were dressed in their house colours for the week – red, yellow, blue and green house-tribes.

It was quite an experience to enter a room and see a group of children all dressed in green, making their green house flag; or a room of blue-clothed pupils working on a massive blue dream catcher. 

Downstairs again and a life-size tipi was under construction, painted with animals and wildlife indigenous to North America. This was to be used for storytelling groups the next day.

In the school hall another aspect of tribes was being explored through dance: a rehearsal of a section from West Side Story was taking place with groups advancing, threatening and enacting fights.

Elsewhere in the school, music and singing could be heard and children met in self-directed groups to discuss and plan projects and write stories.

During my visit I did not see one pupil who looked bored or was off-task – there was a truly exceptional atmosphere. I wondered if this was partly because of the school ethos – it is a Church of England school and religious ethics discreetly permeate what happens there every day.

Teachers and pupils spoke respectfully to each other and worked harmoniously together. The staff were all fully on board and supportive of Arts Week and projects had been carefully thought out and materials sourced. 

At the helm, Karen Jordan, clearly an excellent headteacher, must take credit for her leadership and for giving the children in her school the wish to learn.

Please get in touch if you would like me to write about an art event near you. Contact me via The Village or at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 

http://www.paulahamiltonart.com


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