Since 2008, we’ve worked with students at Bradfields Academy in Kent on a wide range of creative arts projects including drama, photography and music.
During each project, the students – who all have complex learning disabilities – have produced imaginative work, and they certainly didn’t disappoint in our sculpture workshops this July. (This article is from 2015.) Working in small groups, and under the guidance of our professional artist Daniel Wallis, the young people began by drawing their silhouettes onto a large piece of paper, which they then cut out and used to build bodies from tights filled with scrunched-up balls of paper.
After scouting the school grounds, deciding on a pose for their statue and choosing an area in which their artwork would be installed, they used wire to provide structure and shrink wrap to hold their sculptures together. They then decorated their figures with coloured shapes and clothes.
Each of the four characters represents a value that the young people wanted to express. The figure reading the books represents education and learning, the figures on the bench communicate friendship and community, and the figure picking the flower represents respect for nature. When the statues were complete, the students’ friends and teachers were invited to come and see their work in an “unveiling” ceremony. They took great pride in presenting the artwork they created which will remain on permanent display.
Max, one of the students who took part, told us how much he had enjoyed the new experience: “It has been really good to have a professional artist come in and teach us new skills. It feels like we’re learning something extra, something from outside school. I’ve never had the chance to do something like this before. And I definitely feel a lot closer to the other people that took part in the workshops. I would jump at the chance to do something like this again; I would love it if we could make some more sculptures! I would actually like to be an artist when I get older, maybe sell my art or give it to museums, so these workshops have given me a push in the right direction.”
We look forward to returning to Bradfields and inspiring more young people like Max. We wish him luck with his artistic ambitions – good luck!