This month I’ve had a great week working with Donnington Wood Primary School. I was commissioned by Meadow Arts to deliver a week long project at the school as part of their multicultural week. The teachers at Donnington Wood were interested in working with visual language and found poetry (one of my most loved combinations), so I was immediately inspired. Drawing upon my past life in graphic design (and love of unusual letterforms), I designed a workshop where the students could make stencils of non-western typography. We began by looking at text from around the world.
Saudari: Balinese for sister
In yoga, the non-western language we’re most familiar with is Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages in the world.
Each student then drew a letterform from my selection of lettering from Japan, Burma, Bali, China, Russia, India and other countries/continents. From the drawings we made stencils and printed them on squares of fabric (material from Scrappies, one of Shropshire’s little gems!).
After these workshops, the other half of the year group wrote acrostic poems about some of the school’s values, including peace, compassion, friendship, trust, wisdom, service and tolerance (the school is Church of England, being Buddhism and yoga orientated myself I found these values easy to relate to). We then stamped some of the lines on long strips of white fabric:
…..and then I wondered off home with a LOT of half-dry inky fabric in my car, with inky fingernails, looking like I’d been down the mines for a week. My original idea was to sew the work together into several long hangings with letterforms and text, what happened was quite different:
It was satisfying to make a large-scale piece of work (double bed sized) from all the lovely work the students had done. I think the format was inspired by text & textiles work I like from artists such as Tracy Emin and Sara Impey. I also enjoyed the timescale of a week-long residency, culminating in the piece being presented in the school assembly. During this, Steve Wilson at Meadow Arts told the children how important creative subjects are. Given the state of publicly funded arts at the moment, I am heartened by organisations like Meadow Arts who provide opportunities for artists like me to do well-paid and well-organised work, and for people of all ages to participate in creative experiences 🙂