Date of visit: June 2014
Year 9 students from Crofton Academy, who were taking part in the school's STEM week, worked with artist Gillian Brent to explore Public Art and its association to science, technology, engineering and maths. As a result students will develop an understanding of Public Art and the commissioning process.
Working with Gillian at our school the students looked at examples of public art works and talked about who they were made for, why they were made, and what the process was of making them a reality. This helped the students to understand that there is more to making an art work than they may initially thought, e.g., the accountant needed to make sure that the minimum amount of materials were being used, the engineer needed to make sure the structure would stand up on its own, etc.
We worked with Gillian to document the site by looking and then by measuring with different tools, such as 6ft garden canes. This gave the students a realistic idea of how tall a work would need to be before converting the measurements from feet and inches to metres and centimetres.
Having identified a site for the sculpture and having started to think about what the work of art needed to say about the school, we used The Hepworth Wakefield gallery visit as a research trip and to gather inspiration.
Gillian helped students to explore the work of Barbara Hepworth and, in particular, her public commissions for the sculptures Winged Figure and Single Form. Students were given information packs to help them find out more about how and why the artworks were created. By seeing both works in the flesh, the students were able to realise the scale and impact an artwork may have. As a teacher, it was good to see the students using heights in order to make calculated estimates as to how tall each work was.
In the Learning Studios we began to bring the elements of our sessions together where students made drawings and small-scale maquettes of their artwork. At the end of the session we were able to review our ideas as a class, looking at which artwork we would choose, and why. We also considered how we would carry out consultation back at school with the school community and the headteacher.
When back at school we realised how many different ways that we could have then progressed with the project such as; scaling up the maquettes into working models for competition, initiating a school vote for the best artwork or leading a CAD session on how the models might be made using computer programming, considering how this technology can help artists and architects today to realise their ideas.
We are looking forward to developing the students work back at school based on their learning gained during the previous two sessions at school and at The Hepworth Wakefield.