6 June 2018
Images: Milton Primary School, New Geographies Project, Kaitlin Ferguson and Damaris Dresser, 2018 photos: Catarina Rodrigues
by artist Kaitlin Ferguson
As part of the regional New Geographies Project, I have been working alongside Kettle’s Yard to engage children from local primary schools with the landscape of the Eastern Region. We have been drawing inspiration from our natural surroundings and using art to celebrate places which are special to the local community.
Over a series of workshops both in schools and at Kettle’s Yard, we worked with Years 5 and 6 children from two local primary schools; Waterbeach Community Primary School and Milton C of E Primary School.
During the initial school sessions the Kettle’s Yard collection was introduced to the groups, engaging children in discussions around the work from artists in the collection who have been inspired by the landscape such as Ben Nicholson’s ‘Argos’ or Alfred Wallis’s ‘Cottages in a wood – St Ives’.
The children were led through different experimental drawing exercises, such as drawing the journeys they take to school each day with their eyes closed. Working collaboratively, the children used these studies to create large scale maps across the classroom floor, using collage techniques to produce murals of symbols and features of the local landscape.
Following on from this, workshops with Waterbeach Community Primary School explored using sculptural materials and processes to make 3D responses to the landscape.
Group discussions centred around the qualities of the Fenland area and the species that live there. Using clay and wire the children created topographical sculptural reliefs.
Students from Milton C of E Primary School created plaster sculptures also inspired by the geographical features of the local area. The children learnt about the plaster casting process and created clay moulds carved full with patterns taken from studying aerial maps of their village and surrounding areas. Plaster was then poured into the moulds to produce unique reliefs.
Both schools were then invited to visit the newly opened Kettle’s Yard to explore the house and the collection. As part of their visit, the children were tasked with their own ‘brief’ to design and create a model of a sculpture which could be installed in their village and that celebrated the local landscape. The children flew with the brief and created an impressive array of designs each full of ideas and unique takes on the project.
It has been very rewarding to be able to work with these children throughout the whole project and to see their confidence grow from session to session. What has been most rewarding is seeing the development of their skills. Not only are they able to discuss and respond to the New Geographies project, but they are also able to dream and realise artworks and ideas and speak openly and confidently about them.
Kaitlin Ferguson is an artist facilitator at Kettle’s Yard.