Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Seven Stories: St. Bede's School

Making a character collagraph print plate

A couple of years ago Prism Arts ran a project in Carlisle Library connected to the Outside In exhibition at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery. It was a really successful project and great fun to work on. Such was the response that Prism Arts sought funding to do another even bigger project with the library. Late last year we heard we got the funding so starting in January we have been getting the project under way.

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

The project is called Seven Stories, based on the idea that there are only seven stories in the world; all stories being a variation on one of these seven base stories. We are, sticking with a theme, working with seven different groups which include schools, day centres and other community groups. I'm working with several of the groups, including one of the schools. I am working with Year 4 (8-9 year olds) which is one of my favourite age groups as they have lots of ideas and are very imaginative and are generally happy to express these as they aren't yet too self conscious.

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

To start with the students visited the library to gain inspiration and to get their ideas flowing. The school I'm working with were really inspired by a 700 year old manuscript held in the library. They have been working with a writer to create some fantastic stories and poems and I've now started working with them to develop the work visually.

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

Collaging landscapes from stories

For the first session we worked on collages of some of the places in their stories, which included a jungle, the Arctic, rivers and some mountains. The whole class worked really well, carefully choosing materials and creating some fantastic landscapes. I was very impressed with how focused the class was and the level of concentration and commitment to the task I had set them.

Working on character designs

Working on character designs

Following on from the collage work we looked at developing some of the characters from the stories in the next session. As their original starting point had been the 700 year old manuscript I thought it would be interesting to have a look at some illuminated manuscripts and some of the marvellous animals featured in them. This led me to think that making collagraph plates using mainly string would be a good way of getting some of the intricate details found in illuminated manuscripts into the work without having to learn how to do complicated and involved drawing techniques.

My sample print plate

Turning drawn designs into collagraph plates

Selecting materials to collagraph

So, this is what we did! As before the students had some fantastic ideas and showed a willingness to experiment which is very refreshing. Often people are so afraid of getting it 'wrong' that they can be quite restricted with the things they'll try. They also showed great levels of concentration, focusing on the activity all day and producing some fantastic printing plates.

Adding texture with yarn

Beads and string

A completed print plate

I am really pleased and impressed with the work they have produced. If you haven't done any printing before making a print plate is really hard because it's difficult to envisage what the print will look like. With collagraphs you have to remember that it's the sticky up bits that will show in the print and that can be hard to get your head round. However, I think the plates they've made will work really well and I'm excited about testing them out next week.

A completed print plate

A completed print plate

A completed print plate

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