2018 Ceramic mural for Marketfield School,
School Rd, Elmstead Market, CO7 7ET
Marketfield School has moved into a new build, and would like a site specific artwork that exemplifies their values and ethos. The school logo, a tree and handshake, was a starting point for the design.
The school logo shows a tree and a handshake, visualising the key values. In my interpretation, the roots of the tree turn into hands using BSL, showing friendship, a handshake; excellence, a thumbs up in a cupped hand; and respect, a gesture of open, uplifted hands. So from these key values, the tree comes to fruition.
The idea of a journey was key: some children start in early years, some join later, Some children spend their whole school career at the school. The ideas of seasons, and a journey through the tree, with the trunk running to water from which the roots emerge visualises this journey.
The motifs of busy bees, a wise owl, pencils in a drawer, the sunshine captured by children handprints, the stars and the moths creating the moon; a squirrel storing nuts and a little ginger cat caught in the tree!
Each child completed a lesson exploring the ideas generated by the school logo, and what it meant to them, and then produced a leaf; most staff members contributed a modelled animal, some of which were mounted on a leafy lily pad. Some children press moulded ladybirds, or dragonflies, printed butterflies or moths, cut out stars. Each child also did a squeeze of clay which then formed the trunk and branches of the tree, forming the mural of over 1200 separate pieces.
From the artwork, to the maquette, to the workshops with the children and staff, everyone participated. All of the elements made were brought back to the studio and assembled on panels. Each panel was then fired, and then glazed, and then fired again. Dragonflies, and butterflies were lusted and fired again. Everything was then reassembled on the wooden support, touted, and finished.
This was a maquette exploring the techniques the children would explore to create the mural.
Supporting the ceramic panel
The timber framed panel on the workshop wall, ready to have the ceramic panels grouted into it. The panel can then be lifted from the wall, and rehung in situ.
A full scale plan of the artwork before it starts. This was passed from each class to class, where the children could explore and add to the artwork.
The whole artwork was glazed using a wide range of glazes for special effects from breaking glazes to lustres and every colour under the sun!
Artwork in Situ
The artwork was originally designed for an interior stairwell. Lustrous surfaces and bright, contrasting colours were used as there was a low lighting level in the area.
The resulting panel was very detailed, as the school delegate expressed the desire for work akin to Colin Thompsons' "The Paradise Garden" (1998). With the level of detail in the artwork, it was consequently hung at the Reception of the school.
A touch panel was made so that the children could feel the textures of the artwork, but was more robust, to be mounted at waist level to be accessible. This panel was designed to look like a long, horizontal window with the view of a meadow.