Talk About Art associate artist Salina Jane started working with Tidemill Academy in February 2021. Sessions were delivered via zoom to a mixture of pupils in school and at home.
“The children involved in ‘Talk about the Environment’ have looked forward to each session led by ‘Miss Salina’. Their enthusiasm for each task has led to lively and imaginative Artwork and their discussion about artist’s has continued well after Salina has ended the Zoom call!
The children and myself are excited to see how the work will culminate in a final collaborative piece. We have all learnt so much about the work of Environmental artist’s and it has been wonderful to see how much the children care about these issues and are using Art to express their thoughts and opinions.”
Kate; Tidemill teacher and amazing project support!
Week 1: Looking at the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude we talked about the things we would like to wrap up – the Eiffel towers, Tidemill school, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Deptford high street!
We chose an everyday object that interested us to draw and then drew the ordinary object. Some of the class chose reflective objects, some with patterns, and some with interesting shapes.
We showed each other our drawings and them completed our page by drawing the objects the rest of the class had chosen.
We did a show and tell and discussed which of the objects we drew we’d like to wrap up and why. The most popular one was a decorative perfume bottle with a gold feather on it, which half the class wanted to wrap up.
Week 2: Senga Nendudi – They said they ‘loved this video the colours in her video art’ and about walking in someone else’s shoes they said ‘If it was (the shoes of) a celebrity, which she, is I would feel amazed’.
Some of the ideas that came out of the exercise – turning your object into a positive for the environment were fabulous. One child turned his rubbish picker into a type of vacuum to suck the rubbish out of the sea!
Week 3: Agnes Denes – the children said: “I liked that she cared about the environment, she looked into the environment to find patterns and shapes and made art from them”. “I liked the butterfly experiment because it was so really colourful. All the children wanted to climb tree mountain!”
“I liked cutting stuff up and making things from the stuff I cut up. I liked that I made paper sculpture and I learnt about an artist and I had fun. Tomorrow or maybe later I might make another sculpture. It was really good making paper sculptures.”
Week 4: Ben Von Wong – what the children said “He does cool stuff”, “He’s the coolest artist we’ve looked at so far”
“Its amazing he is telling us to recycle and use everything and not to just throw it away and we can even use it in our art”
“He tells us to Be Kind to the Earth”
We had a great discussion about plastic pollution and what that means and the impact it has.
There was much jumping up and down and squeals at Von Wong’s work and at the work the kids produced. About their own work they said
“I used sellotape so it looks like my clownfish fish is stuck in plastic”
“In my picture the fish are sad because they can’t go anywhere because of so much plastic”
“I drew bottles and plastic bags and used string to show the rubbish where the fish are living”
“The jellyfish are layered with plastic bags in my picture just like in the sea”
“There were some delighted children on screen and all very pleased to be part of the after school club next week.“ Kate, Tidemill Academy Teacher
Week 5: Ana Mendieta –
The video was great and the chat afterwards. Raven is a great narrator for the videos please give her Hi5s from me. I do a thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs in the middle, some of the kids loved her work and a few were not sure.
We talked about the concept of Universal energy. The kids comments on Ana Mendieta and her art;
“She’s cool, she left shapes in the earth like, her shapes and people went to visit it to see how it changed”
“She liked to be one with the earth”
“I like her work its very special and its different”
“She looks like earth and is connected to the earth”
I asked the children what they thought about making themselves into art. This is what they said
– I want to do it again (a chorus of voices)
– Your face is your paper
-I’m an orange – stay calm and be an organ
– I’m the sea
-I’m the cupboard in the corner of the classroom (No seriously one Child painted himself as the cupboard in the classroom)
– I’m grass, I’m leaves, I’m fire and I’m the ocean
My smile can be a cloud
I’m a piece of art just like Ana Mendieta did on the video using her own body
Week 6: – Andy Goldsworthy
Comments from the children on Andy Goldsworthy
– He talks about art being not just about people but about nature and nature and all and people are all the same
– He used ice and stone and rock and wood to make his art. He talks about nature and people can look at his art and see that we are like nature.
I liked the pine cone, because it was so big and I liked that he did’t use glue or paint and that every thing was natural
– he says we are all connected to nature
The Leaf exercise was superb and they enjoyed placing the work in different patterns and shapes.
The children said
“I liked that we created different shapes and I liked cutting them out.”
“I liked that we could place the shapes in different circles.”
Week 7: Working towards a final piece
Awesome session today. The children were amazing, so excited and so engaged. Kate was really great.
We started the session by talking about our subject for the last 6 weeks and the artists we had seen, the remembered Ana Mendieta’s connection to the universe through nature and that she said she was at one with nature and her tragic death. They remembered the colour and fun of Benjamin Von Wong’s work and his piece with mermaids and plastic. The remembered Christo and Jeanne Claude and that they wrapped lots of things up and the class remembered they had wanted to wrap up their school and Deptford High Street. They remembered Andy Goldsworthy had made sculptures outside from natural materials.
They felt that environmental art was important because we need to save Nature.
About art club so far on child said, ‘I love art club because its not about drawing perfectly its about creativity and ideas!’
The class teacher collected all the packaging and rubbish left over from the class lunch which amounted to a huge box full. We used this to create an art work showing the impact on nature from our pollution. We drew endangered animals and encased them in the rubbish and in plastic and drew messages across the plastic wrapping.
The children loved doing the art work in different stages. ‘They said its really good, but its also really terrible’. ‘We made a lot of trash but we are not wasting it we are using it’. ‘We are using our rubbish to be creative and to save nature’.
One child said, ‘it reminded me how we should save animals and stop littering on the floor!’
Another said I liked what we did and were were talking and connecting with nature, if nature dies we die. We are nature.’.
It really was great and got us all thinking about how much plastic and other waste we produced just from one lunch and the effect we might have on nature.
Week 8: Working towards a final piece
After a good Easter break Tidemill Academy after school art club were very excited to be back. We started by remembering what we had looked at so far in this project on Environmental Art. The children remembered Andy Goldsworthy who made art outside with things found in nature, like stone, and rock and wood and leaves. They remembered Ana Mendieta who made art with her body, using herself as a canvas. The also remembered Benjamin Von Wong’s Mermaid made of plastic.
We had a look at this blog to see what we had done and everyone remembered painting themselves and making art from home from home with household objects, and making sculptures with paper. We discussed what it meant to be one with nature and to create art from recycled materials.
The main activity today was to create a sculpture together. The objective was to build a structure that would hold the children’s artwork made in the last session. They were making the sculpture out of paper and card as a way of creating something out of waste materials. The aim was to work in collaboration with each other, so we worked in small groups and came together to build once the basic shape was in place for each group. Half way though the session the children were working in wonderful collaboration with each other, thinking about what they wanted to do, what would create the perfect structure and how they could make it visually interesting too. They were also inspired by the Palm tree which hold special significance for the class.
There was loads of energy and enthusiasm and the students made a wonderful artists collaboration together. We will spend some more time in our last session working on this structure as well as getting really involved by becoming part of the art work we made ourselves next week.
“It was a real pleasure to see the group work together to make a piece of collaborative artwork. Ideas flowed and when the time came to join individual pieces to make one group sculpture, everyone was actively involved in building, creating and suggesting ways to develop and improve. The enthusiasm was overflowing and it was lovely to watch them work together so independently. Children are keen to return next week to complete their sculpture!”
Kate Ruskin, Tidemill Academy
Week 9: Working towards a final piece
In week 9 of the TAAE project with Tidemill Academy everything came together with a true collaborative working atmosphere in the classroom between all the children. The class worked together to finish constructing the sculpture they had made from recylcled materials. The sculpture is a platform to hold the individual artworks created from waste packaging collected from just one lunch at school. We revisited the works of Senga Nengudi, an artist we looked at in the beginning of the project to look at her sculptures and discussed the similarities and differences of her sculpture and ours.
The children worked so wonderfully together, it was a really great collaboration which they enjoyed. Here’s what they said about creating the sculpture together:
‘I liked the making and hanging things to the sculpture and decorating it’
‘I like how it looks, I like that it looks like trees and palm trees and how they look like two trees are holding hands. They are like twin trees’
‘I looks really good, with everything finished’
As it was our last session working together with involvement from TAA we discussed what had been our favourite parts of the project and what we had enjoyed most. A few things came out of the discussion, including that everyone felt their final art work related to art and the environment. The children commented that they liked looking at so many different artists and they had remembered their work well and it was obvious it had made an impression on them.
‘I like doing a collaboration. One person would suggest something I hand’t thought of and I would think, that’s a really good idea’.
I liked using stuff the blends with the environment. I liked that we used recycled stuff and plastic. People normally throw these things away and it damages the planet, but we made art out of it’
Mrs Ruskin was amazing working with the children and talked about how we started this project during lockdown, each of us working separately in our homes, but in this final week we are physically working together, working in collaboration and creating something wonderful together.
Its been an amazing project full of energy and creativity and inspiration.
It’s not the end though, Art club will continue with Mrs Ruskin for another week, where they will add the last touches to the project. TAA is looking forward to seeing what they create.
The final piece!!