I finished off a very busy year of author visits on Tuesday, with a really positive session at Farnborough secondary school in Nottingham (their art department is brilliant!). It was nothing to do with all the primary school visits I've been doing in Nottingham - just a coincidence.
This is a follow-up to a project I did in half a dozen Nottingham secondary schools a while ago, running illustration workshops with Y7 children. I was invited to go back to see a book the students had created as a result of the work we did together, and to give prizes to those involved.
While I was there, I did another illustration workshop. Trouble was, because it was a mixed group, some of whom had been part of the previous project, I had to do something completely new. I also had the added challenge that some children were with me all morning, whilst others had to come and go, because of other lesson commitments - tricky.
I decided to adapt a Giddy Goat idea that has worked well in primaries. We briefly recapped about how to use facial expressions and body-language, then they all created their own character balancing at the top of an A3 sheet, suitable terrified or show-offy. They were then challenged to balance as many different and interesting objects as possible beneath, creating a surreal tower spanning 2 or 3 sheets of paper. They really got the message and we had some lovely ideas, where different elements of the towers interacted with one another and with their environment.
I was chatting to the teacher afterwards and complimenting her on the inspirational environment she had created: wonderful artwork by the students everywhere. The current art rooms are in temporary buildings in the playground, because next year they move to their new build. BUT, it turns out they will not be allowed to attach anything to the walls in the new art room, no children's paintings pinned up, not even a staple to attach a line to peg work up. Formal display frames only, because the new-build funding involves private investment, so it won't belong to the school. How crazy is that?