Monday, 22 May 2017

Watchfield Primary School (part two)

Three workshops with the younger pupils at the school. This was more of a challenge compared with the older ones before, younger ones have less experience about the town to draw about and even though I tried to make the project accessible to them I felt many struggled with what to actually do, even though they understood it was a map. I showed them a very simple slide show  introducing repeated patterns into their imaginations to help make things less technical.

We worked on the map of the village and on the map of the school and we also worked individually on separate pieces of paper. I watched the children working together and saw that a handful had ideas and proceeded to draw them out. Some of these ideas were to copy what was already drawn on the map by others in earlier sessions. The others all seemed happy to just copy their friends idea and a lot of repeated drawings appeared and nothing new was being introduced. These same drawings appeared again and again on both maps, just done by different people. This is almost interesting in its own way, as it reminded me of something I read about in the history of religious Icon Painting! Monks copied earlier drawings of saints and scenes and did not create new compositions, so for a very long period of historical time the same core imagery was copied again and again and it is believed that is how the very stylised imagery associated with early religious painting and manuscripts developed. Kind of what I was getting here.

pupils enjoyed carrying the maps and handling them

Some of the most successful work was done with the classes that were able to walk around the school make some kind notes about what they saw and where, then came back and added the information. There was some repeated material with this technique as well but it worked very well for the pupils as they were doing their own surveys and transcribing from their notes.

copying what was already there was a popular technique!
The most successful work was done individually
Most surprising of all to me was the fact that the best and most successful work was made individually on separate pieces of paper. Pupils were perhaps phased by the free-form approach I used to make these maps and working in groups on the floor with materials all around was not a familiar setting. But sitting at a table working on their own, many more children were able to visually articulate their ideas and also able to modify and adapt their own ideas from slides I had shown earlier. I have come away with extensive visual lists of things used in school. And the concept of working with pattern and imagery together did compute for some, when earlier I thought I had missed the target.
The individual work on separate pieces of paper from these sessions has the biggest value. These are in the form of small drawings of things, sometimes from imagination, sometimes from reference books and others were able to draw simple but complete maps of the school or the village. This group (or age?) worked better on their own. I think the group dynamic confused, them well that's a bit sweeping, perhaps many of them.


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