At the end of our first week back from the Christmas holiday, Year 9 students were invited to an afternoon of creative workshops run by visiting artists and crafts-people, with the support of the art department.
With much in the news about the impact of pollution, plastics filling seas and our consumer society squandering resources, the afternoon was themed around the concept of ‘Up-cycling’ and the challenges to design that we are all facing.
With this in mind, the afternoon began with reference to the inspiring waste tip orchestra of Paraguay who make their instruments from landfill objects. In the workshops this theme continued with the re-use or enhancement of materials and objects.
The student activities included bags and cushions made from old shirts with Karen Rowe; recycled jewellery constructed with Charlotte Berry; Large pottery vessels with found object sprig moulds, built with the help of Susan Drew; colours and paintings imaginatively constructed using spices and natural pigments under the guidance of Eleanor Cornforth; a pair of life-size cardboard and pipe dancing figures choreographed by our art and DT technicians , Sarah McCullugh and Tim Titchener; a strong photo-montaged poster record of the events guided by Chris Baines; and a feast of beautifully icing-enhanced Madeira cakes from the Food Tech department. While all this was happening with groups of 10–14 students, one final set was being coached by experimental musician and teacher Jo May. In the short time span of the afternoon, they learnt about making music from old kitchen equipment. They then composed and practiced a musical percussion piece which they performed with amazing skill and aplomb at the plenary session.
A poignant phrase mentioned by one of the Paraguayan landfill orchestra organisers which spoke to the day was, 'We do not wish just to throw broken things away… or people.'