Grabbing your opportunities and pushing the profile of the art department

This year is the 75th anniversary of the school where I work.  Reason enough for a large-scale reunion and a series of other events.  Suddenly there are budgets available for things that weren’t previously possible.  And for the art department that meant financing was available for a large-scale artwork to celebrate the occasion. 

Within our department we spent an afternoon pondering what and how we might do this in such a way as to involve the pupils, somehow combine that activity within our existing lesson structure and most importantly of all, make a bit of a large-scale statement!

The result for us was to move the series of lessons we teach about all forms of street art that to the classes of 15- and 16-year-olds, from the end of the school year to the beginning and to get started with the practical part of the project as quickly as possible.

Different teachers approached the practical part in their own preferred way, but the basic idea was to allow each pupil to produce a street art/graffiti inspired artwork and then to combine the elements of many of the designs digitally to produce one combination work for each class involved in the project.  In the end we finished with nine such digital works, on for each class that was involved.

It was at this point the extra ‘reunion budget’ came to help.  We were able to print each design commercially or plastic sheeting measuring 1.5 x 2 metres, making a total artwork that was 18 metres long.  If you’ve never tried such large-scale printing it is worth looking into, it’s not as expensive as you might think.

Once hung up, some inside for the reunion and some outside the ‘big statement’ was made, and the pride of the pupils whose work was included was clear to see.  And of course, we now have a series of bright, largescale works that can be used in many ways and many occasions around the school in the future.

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