REWIND: Ravenswood Primary ‘School Values’ window hangings.

In the Spring and Summer term of 2012, I was asked to work with the children of Ravenswood Primary School to create a series of banners which illustrated the ‘school values’ and to be hung in the large windows of their dinner hall. ALL the children in the school, from Nursery to Year 6 were involved in the design of the banners and painting them – well over 500 children! It was a fantastic and exciting project to be part of.

All ten window banners, hanging in the dinning hall.

All ten window banners, hanging in the dinning hall.

Every year group was allocated a school value and in their lessons, they came up with a design for it – often linked to areas of the curriculum they were working on.

'R' for 'Respect'.

‘R’ for ‘Respect’.

I transferred the children’s designs onto cotton fabric, 2 metres by 80 cm to fit the windows. Then every child in school from that year group, would spend some time painting on their hanging.

'A' for 'Achievement'.

‘A’ for ‘Achievement’.

Using the mid weight cotton and COLOURTEX by Specialist Crafts, we were able to create a ‘stained glass window’ effect.

'V' for 'Valued'.

‘V’ for ‘Valued’.

As you can imagine, sometimes trying to co-ordinate so many children was a bit tricky but the teachers, classroom assistants and parents all helped to ensure it was a very smooth running project.

'E' for 'Enjoyment'.

‘E’ for ‘Enjoyment’.

'N' for 'Nurturing'.

‘N’ for ‘Nurturing’.

On each of the hangings, the children decided it would be great fun to paint a Raven, a symbol of the school, which they could have fun looking for whilst sitting in the dinning hall eating their lunch.

'S' for 'Self-confidence'.

‘S’ for ‘Self-confidence’.

'W' for 'Working Together'.

‘W’ for ‘Working Together’.

The large textile window hangings, also help to absorb the sound in the dinning hall, so it doesn’t seem so noisy for the younger children.

'O' for 'Opportunities'.

‘O’ for ‘Opportunities’.

'O' for 'Openness'.

‘O’ for ‘Openness’.

Besides the different year groups, some of the school clubs also created their own designs for a ‘school value’. The Drama Club painted the ‘Self-Confidence’ hanging and the School Council design and painted the ‘Openness’ hanging.

'D' for 'Diversity'.

‘D’ for ‘Diversity’.

I must admit, one of my favourite window hangings was by the children in the Nursery. There was approximately 63 children in Nursery at the time and each one choose a butterfly shape then painted it in their preferred colours.

The window hangings are much enjoyed by the children and are a lovely talking point for them, as they are able to remember which elements they painted of the hanging when they were lower down in the school.

This is a detail from the hanging painted by the 63 children in the school nursery. Their school value was about Diversity, so they each painted a butterfly, different in shape and colour. The raven appears on all of the hangings, as it is part of the school insignia and a fun image for the children to find on the hangings whilst eating their school dinners.

Learning resources for local museum.

Over the past ten years, whilst working as a freelance textile artist, I have been fortunate enough to work considerably with the Hancock, now known as the Great North Museum. It is a fabulous Natural History Museum, with even a full size T-Rex skeleton. Over that time, I have made Habitat Bags and Dinosaur Bags to be used by schools. The textile bags illustrate the theme of the self-led workshops and contain lots of fun interactive pieces inside.

This week, during the school Easter half-term, I’ve temporarily had the bags back as all their handles needed repairing. The Learning Officer at the Hancock, told me that the 13 bags I have made are used, on average, by 10,000 school children a year on self led school workshops! This is a remarkable number and the photos I have taken and used on this post show how the bags look today – almost like new!

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

One of the most fun bags I’ve created was the Octopus Bag, which not only meant I could work with beautiful colours and fabrics to evoke the colours of the sea, but that I could also have a great time with freeform crochet to make an octopus hat for the school children to wear whilst taking about and exploring the octopus habitat.

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

Camouflage is an important aspect of the way ac octopus lives, so I also create a mat to aid teachers when introducing the idea of camouflage.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Another very popular bag, deals with the Arctic and that’s the Polar Bear bag and as you can see from the photos it is great fun! I ensured that when I made the polar bear paws, they were accurate in size to help the school children understand the enormity of the creature!

Polar Bear Bag.

Polar Bear Bag.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel's 'Drey'.

Squirrel’s ‘Drey’.

Above is a picture of a squirrel’s ‘Drey’ or nest, with other elements like crinkly sound making leaves and acorns.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

This coming week, I’m making some additional elements to the dinosaur bags, to help school children with the visual understanding of fossils. These photos show some of the bags that these additional pieces will be put in. The bags deal with the swamps, the nests they built, creatures that evolved in the seas, reptiles and amphibians.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Besides the Hancock Museum, I have also made the Animal and Habitat Bags for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Once I have completed the new pieces to go into the dino bags this week, I shall then begin fabric painting a banner to be used for schools to be used as a resource in the Egyptian workshops. The image will show a section from the weighing of the heart in the Book of the Dead.

Burial Cist Plan

Burial cist planThis week I have been working on two more ‘burial cist’ plans for the Discovery Museum in Newcastle, finely fabric painting onto heavy cotton. The burial plans are taken from a sketch made by an archaeologist at a burial site, which I have then made ‘life size’, onto fabric so that children can re-enact how people would have buried members of their group 4500 years ago, placing beakers and other objects in the burial site. The Boxes of Delight  are loan boxes for schools to borrow from the Discovery Museum when studying pre history and many other topics in the National Curriculum.

Washington New Town’s 50th Anniversary Banner made by Class 5T, George Washington Primary School

Banner 50 a

Washington’s 50th Anniversary Banner

Photo (c) Ian McClelland

The pupils and I were first inspired by the documents and plans published when Washington was being planned in the 1960’s. Together, we looked at the master-plan, with its colourful use of zones, which becomes an abstract artwork in itself. We also used the extensive collection of books held at Washington Library, which illustrate what an iconic symbol of the optimism in New Town planning Washington was and is today. Collectively, the pupils and I decided to use the colourful illustration of the map to became the central point of our banner. Using the ideals of the original plan, the pupils choose to illustrate the key elements, such as schools, homes, shops and industry, that would bring the individual villages together to make Washington Town.

The pupils worked using a number of different textile techniques to create the banner including fabric painting, embroidery and appliqué. My role was to guide the pupils, help them develop their design, encourage them to try new skills and build their confidence in the arts. The finished banner is 2 x 1.5 metres.

This banner is made to celebrate Washington 50, in partnership with Sunderland Library Services and George Washington Primary School, funded by Area Community Funding.

I have been telling my family about what a great project we’ve been doing.”


GW 50 1 portrait  GW birds  GW map

I used the sewing that I learnt making the kite to make a small dress and skirt for my artist’s mannequin.” Rosie

Washington banner Nissan  Paint pots

The map made me feel like visiting some of the areas of Washington I haven’t visited before.” Gabrielle

Ravenswood Primary School Banners 2010-13

Over four years I worked with Ravenswood Primary School, creating a series of banners with the children of Year 1 and 5. The banners were funded by the schools active and very supportive PTA. The banners were made to reflect the heritage of the area the children lived in and to link it to their current topic. In many of the year groups almost 90 children worked on these banners creating the initial design idea, choosing the traditional textile techniques they felt would work well on the banners and of course, making the banner.

Over the six weeks, the children would learn how to use traditional techniques such as hooky and proggy matting, batik, embroidery, applique, fabric painting, weaving and knitting. These skills would then be used on their banner. It was great fun and the children were supported by their teachers, teaching assistants and parents.

IMG_6448                              photos downloaded 071110 328

Year 5 The Victorian Quayside 2010                            Year 1 Playing (levers and pullies) 2010

472                              Victorian seaside yr 1 2011

Year 5 Our Coastal Waters 2011                                     Year 1 The Victorian Seaside 2011

Shipbuilding banner                                        Mining banner 2013

Year 5 The Shipyards 2012                                               Year 5 Mining Banner 2013