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Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Project Leaders: Amy Douglas and Michelle O’Connor (visual artist and mosaicist)

Our project was to create a nine metre square wall mural with the The Bridge School at their old site to welcome them to their new school as part of the Hadley Learning Community.

We worked with14 – 17 year old students with a wide range of physical and educational special needs for a week. The theme chosen by the school was the story of the Wrekin Giant.  This story was told every morning with the aid of a specially made storysack, the students telling more and more of the story each time.  Each day focused on a different aspect of the story and included a large number of wide-ranging activities to keep attention, enthusiasm and to allow opportunity for all children to shine.

For example, one day focused on water.  I told a local flood story, and we re-created the flood using lengths of shimmering blue and green material. We then talked about different types of water – puddles, rain, streams, rivers, lakes.  With the students inside we threw buckets of water at the window so they could watch the shapes the water made.  We went outside and played with trays of water – sketching the shapes the water made when it had a stone dropped in.  We added oils to water and made reflective imprints by laying paper on the top. Using wire hoops we made large bubbles and drew the shapes of them.  We headed off on a walk to a local pool and looked at all the plants growing around the water and the wildlife in and around the pool. The sketches produced were taken the next day to Jackfield tile museum and used for ideas as our stundents painted tiles which were fired and used in the Welcome Wall. 

This was an exciting, successful project helped greatly by the enthusiasm of all the teachers and support staff at the Bridge.  The staff led by example, supported us in our ideas and extended the project by follow on work after we had gone.

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This was a reminiscence residency lasting nine months, which celebrated the lives and memories of people living around the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  We included local primary schools at all stages of the process, using our work to inspire the children and empower them to influence the rest of the project.  Throughout the project we built up a memory box, which slowly filled with more and more objects, each associated with at least one story.  We used the following activities with the children, with great success:

Story detectives: children listened to stories from the memory box and played conversational games.  We introduced them to methods of interview technique.  Children interviewed each other and members of their families.  They brought stories back into class and added new objects to the memory box.

Storyseeds: children chose stories from a selection told from the memory box and we used these as seeds to create a ‘play in a day’: performances of storytelling, dance, drama and music for children, parents, governors and community members at the end of the day.

Storywalks: we took various community groups including the Country Park Junior Rangers Club on walks around the area, telling stories gathered from the community in sites associated with the stories.

‘Pontcysyllte Memories’: the project concluded in a book of reminiscences published by Tempus Publishing.   We held a grand book launch next to the aqueduct with the mayor of Wrexham presenting each contributor with a copy of the book.  The youngest contributor to the book was nine years old.  As part of the celebration, children told stories with the aid of the memory box to audiences including the mayor.

Pontcysyllte 1

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