Inspired by the sea theme of The Little Mermaid our current project is using octopus tentacles to teach how to use use light and shade to create the illusion of 3D..This is going to be a really fun project for all our groups and teach them really valuable drawing skills…



Our big drawing of a forest by the last school class to visit is changing into an underwater world…an octopuses garden! Our artists can apply their new skills to a large scale piece and make their tentacles weave in and out of our kelp forest..



Little Mermaid

All our artists have been making 3D props for a local pantomime production of The Little Mermaid:

Little Art Club and Saturday Juniors created Octopuses…

octopus in making



And this gorgeous, enormous, 2D whale:


Whilst Intermediate and Juniors created  amazing 3D whales using just newspaper, masking tape and Kitchen roll:

whale1 whale2 whale3 octopus1

Everyone from our 2 year olds to our 16 year olds created papier mache fish to create a fabulous shoal of 50 colourful sea creatures:



Yr 6 Group explores ‘Clockwork’ by Philip Pullman

Yr 6 Group explores ‘Clockwork’ by Philip Pullman

A really exciting and productive day was spent exploring visual language to represent themes and ideas from the book  ‘Clockwork’ by Philip Pulman with a YR6 class.

‘Clockwork’ is a dark story but with really interesting comments on creativity and the creative process. There is a moment in the book where 2 characters are compared. Karl is a clockwork maker and Fritz is a story teller:

“Here’s the truth. If you want something, you CAN have it, but only if you want everything that goes with it, including all the hard work and the despair, and only if you’re willing to risk failure. That’s the problem with Karl: he was afraid of failing, so he never really tried”.

“…Fritz was an optimist and Karl was a pessimist, and that makes all the difference in the world…..He was going to wind up the story, set it going and make up the end when he got there…he was an optimist

 I love this articulation of creativity as an act of optimism and of hope, creativity promoting  well-being . Another reason to promote and develop creative thinking in our children and young people…!

On  the day we explored how to create atmosphere and drama in visual imagery by using chirascuro, and silhouette.

drawing trees

The children learnt how to use charcoal and rubber to create dark and light and were able to work on a really big scale creating a dark and mysterious forest..


We explored a range of mono-printing techniques both large and small scale and used collage to layer images in order to create foreground and background





Around the theme of clockwork we considered the way that  the characters, the places and the narrative were all interconnected:

“And once you’ve wound up a clock, there’s something frightful in the way it keeps on going at its own relentless pace…’

“Some stories are like that. Once you’ve wound them up , nothing will stop them; they move on forwards till they reach their destined end, and no matter how much the characters would like to change their fate, they can’t.”



Using drawing by monoprinting the children created a cog for each chosen character or place in the story. These cogs were then connected to other cogs until all the characters and places interlinked in a complicated potential mechanism of  over 100 pieces….All wound up and ready to go!

Why we need Art in Education

Last week I was talking in assemblies at Holmfirth High School about creativity and the need for education to develop creative thinking
I was therefore pleased to see this article in The Observer this weekend which echoes some of what I was taking about..

From hit shows such as War Horse and Sherlock to the singing star Adele and sought-after architects and designers Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick, British creative knowhow has basked in the international limelight for more than a decade. The world wants our creative thinking and artistic talent.

But that leading position is in jeopardy, says a report due out on Tuesday. A new emphasis on creative thinking among foreign competitors has underlined a growing threat to Britain’s worldwide standing in the arts.

While schools are being urged to concentrate on maths and science, much of the rest of the developed world is embarking on an “arts race” for soft diplomatic power and creative status.

The historically strong tradition of hit cultural exports across performance, art and design will not continue into the next decade if the plans of rival foreign investors come good.

Countries as far away as China, South Korea and Brazil have learned from British success and are investing heavily in their creative economies, according to research carried out by BOP Consulting in collaboration with the Creative Industries Federation to mark the cultural lobbying organisation’s first birthday this week. European neighbours France, Germany and Italy are doing much the same thing.

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China has recently made the creative industries a “main pillar” of its national economy, while Taiwan has shifted its curriculum towards the encouragement of creative thinking. In the US there is also increased understanding of the significance of a cultural education, with San Francisco voting for a 50% rise in grant-funding for the San Francisco Arts Commission to secure the future of its cultural scene.

Speaking before the release of the research, designer and philanthropist Sir John Sorrell, chair of the CIF, said that, while George Osborne’s autumn statement had endorsed Britain’s creative industries, there was no scope for complacency. “Other countries now also see the economic value of culture and are investing heavily,” he said. “The Chinese want things to be perceived as ‘designed in China’, not ‘made in China’.”

Of real concern to his federation members is the push to get the EBacc adopted in Britain for at least 90% of secondary pupils. This has no creative component, takes up the space of seven or eight GCSEs in the curriculum and so, they argue, prevents many students from furthering their artistic interests in other subjects.

Last week leading actors and musicians wrote to the Times to complain about the impact of the widescale imposition of the “narrow” EBacc. “In order to stay at the top we need to invest in the future, especially in creativity in schools, where the number of pupils taking design and technology has halved in the past decade,” said Sorrell. “That is cutting off the skills pipeline we need for future success.”

The new international comparisons study, carried out by Callum Lee and Lucy Minyo of BOP Consulting for the federation, is part of The C.Report, a survey of the CIF’s first year of work which is intended as a curtain-raiser to further studies of levels of foreign investment and sponsorship of the arts.

John Kampfner, chief executive of CIF, believes that Britain’s artistic pre-eminence has been built on sustained levels of investment from the lottery and from government, underpinned by creative education in schools.

“But we risk putting our hard-earned reputation and economic vibrancy at risk if we undermine the infrastructure that supports a thriving arts and creative industries sector, with creative education currently the biggest hole in central government policy,” he said.

“It should not be possible for a school to be deemed outstanding if its students are deprived of a quality cultural education, in and out of the curriculum. A reduction in the number of pupils with creative skills can only have damaging repercussions for the creative economy.”

Kampfner’s fears about a shrinking arts curriculum are echoed by Lizzie Crump of the Cultural Learning Alliance, who argues that government’s aim to give schools more freedom has been thwarted by their weighting in favour of EBacc during a consultation period that ends on January 29.

“Schools and teachers really do need to be trusted. Science and technology and maths are obviously important, but we need to ensure there is an arts component in the education of students too,” she said.

The number of arts teachers and hours of arts teaching in British schools are both going down, Crump said. “There will be young people, of course, who are supported in the arts by their parents, but we want a gold standard of arts education for all our children.”

Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings, often alluded to by government, are also about to start measuring creativity. It is ironic, Crump added, that Britain is poised to pull away from the arts just as there is a global move towards monitoring these competencies in pupils.