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OUR TOWN

BANNER MAKING AT THE BLUECOAT SCHOOL STAMFORD LINCOLNSHIRE

A pictorial review of printmaking activities at a primary school, involving both children and adults in a Family Learning Project January March 2007

Jonathan Korejko,12 Church Lane, Timberland, Lincoln LN4 3SB Tel: 01526 378222 www.timberlandand.co.uk July 2007 Organised and Funded by the Lincolnshire Schools Improvement Service and The Bluecoat School

PRINTING on paper, making proofs, colour mixing, two colour prints

DESIGNING AND CUTTING BLOCKS

Children made use of visual information in books and photos to design simple blocks on cardboard.

The blocks were cut with scissors. Adults helped to cut out the finer details using fine knives.

Adults spent much more time drawing and cutting their own blocks, creating intricate designs

DESIGNING THE BANNER : LAYOUT OF PRINT BLOCKS

A dummy sheetof paper, the same shape and size of the banner cloth, was used to design the layout of the print blocks

PRINTING ON CLOTH

Printing on long pieces of cloth meant that everyone had to be involved. Children became expert at inking up, adults helped with the more complicated tasks of aligning the cloth, and Jonathan was responsible for getting the print blocks positioned and colour flow correct.

PRINTING THE MAIN CENTRAL PANEL

All of our expertise and understanding of applying inks, mixing colours and tones, printing with two print blocks and design layout paid off when the most notable buildings of Stamford were printed. Everyone on the project was involved in this piece, which became the central panel of the large finished wall hanging. 6

Our Town :
Wall Hanging printed on cotton cloth in six connecting panels . 285 x 285 cm (94 x 94)

Project Title: Our Town


Family Learning In and Out of Schools, Bluecoat School, Stamford, Lincolnshire Relief Printmaking with Jonathan Korejko, Timberland Art and Design
Organised and Funded by the Lincolnshire Schools Improvement Service and The Bluecoat School

This is a report about the time I spent over a 10 week period in the first three months of 2007 at the Bluecoat School in Stamford, a beautiful and historic town on the southern edge of Lincolnshire. As a printmaker, I was asked to devise a programme to teach children and adults about the process of printmaking, which resulted in a work of art about the people and places in this interesting piece of England. The project at Bluecoat School was a bit of a hybrid as far as the participants were concerned: 19 children took part in the printmaking sessions during school hours (1:15-3:00 pm), and family groups consisting of 6 parents and 7 children were involved in a later session which ran from 3:30-5:00 pm. The children in the afternoon sessions never worked with those in the family sessions, although there would have been some discussion amongst the children the day following the Thursday afternoons when the workshops took place. Likewise, there was a great difference in ages amongst the children who were involved: Year 3 through to Year 9 primary school children. It was my job as workshop leader to devise a programme which could appeal to these age and ability levels, and to forge a homogeneous group during each session (so that younger children werent left behind and older children were not being held back.) At the same time, I had to ensure that the activity also appealed to the adult minds of the parents, who needed something more intellectual to deal with, whilst working with their own children in this group activity. Much emphasis was also placed on helping the children to understand the importance of collaboration and teamwork, whilst improving their social and communication skills at the same time. One of the schools teachers, Jessie Hunt, became my assistant throughout the programme, a person who intuitively helped me with all aspects of technique as well as with disciplining the children in what was quite a small workspace. Tim Howley, the Headteacher, also made a great difference to the success of the programme not only through his enthusiastic support and positive reaction to the work we were doing, but also because he became involved in many of the printmaking sessions himself. The contribution of a hard working and dedicated individuals like Jessie and Tim can make all of the difference in running a programme like this. Printmaking was the best technique into which these many different people could be slotted. It was interesting to follow the progress of the project as the various participants dealt with the tasks I assigned them each week that we met. The relief printing unit made use of a customised, second-hand mangle from an old washing machine, which allowed us to print onto paper and fabric. The participants were taught how to design, cut, ink and print blocks made of thick cardboard . By the end of the project all ages and ability levels were capable of printing clear and concise imagery.

Here are the stages through which the Bluecoat Printmakers journeyed: Phase one: 1) Drawing and cutting print blocks and printing on paper 2) Printing with different colours 3) Cleaning and storing print blocks Phase two: 1) Discovering aspects of Stamford townscape using artists photos, tourist information, and school library 2) Designing a drawing on paper, transferring to print block 3) Cutting new designs and printing on paper 4) Making use of reduction printing Phase three: 1) Designing on cloth, moving dry print blocks around on dummy sheet 2) Mixing of inks, creating tones of the same colour 3) Printing on lengths of cloth, 1foot x 8 foot, (35cm x 2750 mm ). Using five different colours tones on the same piece of work to create depth and interest. Phase four: 1) Designing a group piece of work, to reflect the experience gained in previous phases whilst at the same time melding the various age/ability/maturity levels into a homogenous statement. 2) Re-examining Stamford architecture, and designing/making prints about doors and windows 3) Re-examining Stamfords townscape, and making prints about The Meadows: grassland, river flowing, children playing. 4) Understanding and designing a two colour print, one block for each colour. Print registration. 4) Designing a printed piece of cloth for each of the elements about Stamford discovered through group discussion. 4) Designing a title page to include the name of the school Phase five: 1) Printing on a number of pieces of cloth, one for each aspect of Stamfords architecture/townscape as previous discussed, using multiple colours. 2) Explaining how all of these individual pieces of work are made to fit into one large piece of art work according to the plans made by the artist. Phase six: (final) To be completed by the school, after the workshops are finished: 1) Sew up the edges and sew hanging pockets to accept hanging rods as supplied by the artist 2) Hang the finished pieces of banner into one complete unit using hanging rods and hanging cords as supplied by the artist, measuring approximately 8 foot x 10 foot (2.75m x 3m ) 3) Stand back and admire!

Because this project was organised at relatively short notice, there wasnt enough time for the school to prepare the participants in advance of my first visit. I decided that it would be unproductive to try and spend time with people walking around Stamford and sketching/doing observational drawings because of the logistics involved, when I felt that the emphasis should be on learning the skills of printmaking. So I provided the groups with all of the visual stimulation required. This came from four main sources. 1) Photographs which I took, or the school had in their possession, or which I gathered from the internet 2) Tourist information from local information centres and the Stamford Museum 3) Books about Stamford f rom the schools and the public library 4) My own observations and notes. Ideally, given more forward planning, the participants could have been involved in all of this information gathering as well as making personal visits to sites around the town. Stamford has a vast array of architecture and history on offer, far too much to be encompassed in a programme like this one. So I had to focus on what was possible in the time we had together, realising that I would have to put a lot of research into the project to come up with practicable ideas. It was necessary therefore for me to feed selected bits information into the sessions, without overwhelming everyone with too much detail. I focused on major buildings with notable architectural outlines, that is, ones which would make good silhouette type pictures. I then asked everyone to look specifically at windows which had interesting features, and then, in a following meeting, to concentrate on doors and doorways. The final sessions involved less site specific tasks, like designing print block letters, and prints about people playing, running, walking, and jumping in grass and around the river on the southern edge of the town. It was my job as a printmaker to teach to the group the methods an artist would use to observe, reflect upon, and act on information gathered about a specific locale to create a print, or series of prints, and/or a large wall hanging which would encapsulate what I saw and how I felt at the time. As artistic director, I explained to the participants how I could help them to mould their collective experiences into a piece of work just as if they were the artists themselves. I presented the groups with an overall design plan at the end of the fifth week, in which I described how the project would produce a series of mini-banners, which would be linked together to make one very large wall hanging. Each banner would be complete in its own right, and we could do as many or as few of these as time and skill levels allowed. I never proposed that we must do all of this by the deadline date. Instead, I suggested that, we would try and do as much as possible and challenged the groups with statements like if we can get these blocks finished by the end of today, do you think youd be able to print a b anner with them the next time we meet? The finished piece of artwork encompassed all of the many aspects of Stamford which we learned about as the project progressed, including buildings, close-ups of windows and doors, a river, people passing through the Meadows grasslands, and a glorious colourful title banner with the schools name amongst the clouds . By sweeping everyone along in the creativity of design and in the activity of printing, the building blocks of our proposed large banner became a reality. The result, which now hangs in The Bluecoat School, is a testament to the time we spent together and all of the hard work and learning that went into the Our Town Family Learning Project.

Jonathan Korejko,12 Church Lane, Timberland, Lincoln LN4 3SB Tel: 01526 378222 www.timberlandand.co.uk Photographs: all images on workshop activities, printing, prints by J. Korejko Photo of finished banner and photos on page seven by The Bluecoat School

July 2007

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