Two weeks ago we had the most amazing presentation from Kingsdale Secondary School students at Global Generation’s Paper Garden. Parents, teachers, some of the Global Generation team, friends and siblings were all there for the inspired students to show off their wonderful 3D cosmic creations.
The Kingsdale student’s art pieces were the accumulation of a 5 week course. Each session started with ‘Sitting Still’ in the Paper Yurt and then was followed by a presentation on different aspects of the Universe. These included different sizes that exist in the Cosmos; the idea that the Universe can be thought of as not just a place but also as a story and the notion that the Cosmos that we live in has characteristics, qualities or values. Some of these values are ‘interconnection’, ‘growth’, ‘mystery’, ‘creativity’, ‘nesting’ and ‘morphing.’ It was these themes and others, that the students explored with boundless enthusiasm, depth and creativity. It was particularly gratifying and inspiring for me to see that all these bright young people, really had absorbed and contemplated many of the Universe aspects that they had listened to over the previous weeks. This enabled them to create with vision, insight and inspiration.
In the photograph below of Poppy’s wonderful creation of the Big Bang and from her narrative, it can be seen that she is really struck by the fact that we live in an interconnected Universe. Furthermore, this on a human level means that she doesn’t need to feel lonely, since as she says ‘everything is connected.’
I was particularly struck by the maturity and the depth of thinking of these young people, who were only 13 or 14 years old. Breaking many of the stereotypes of today’s juniors, they showed that they can grapple profoundly with big concepts and ideas, that many adults don’t even consider. Have a look at the examples below (I unfortunately wasn’t able, through lack of room, to include everyone’s work) of Ella, Rosa, Matylda, Hannah, Maya and Elma’s wonderful creations and their own narratives of their work:
Before the students showed their work to everyone who had gathered, they worked on their presentation skills. This involved everyone splitting up into groups of two or three and practicing speaking about their pieces. We all understood through discussion, that a good speech would be clear, audible, expressive and engage the audience. The speaking practice really paid off because when they finally came to the presentation they all shone and sparkled with their performance having that WOW factor! Parents were blown away and exhilarated by their work. Below are some of the parents comments:
In the Paper Garden we are really fortunate to have a very large open working space. Furthermore, it is filled with lots of different reclaimed materials from paper, wood, polystyrene, ribbons, cardboard tubes, newspaper, crayons and all kinds of different paints. We also have a vast supply of different tools to use. From drills, glue-guns, saws, hammers and chisels. One of the themes or aspects that repeatedly came out from the students was that they enjoyed the freedom of the sessions. Freedom, in that they could roam around, choose whatever materials inspired them and then explore how to create with them themselves. This 3D exploratory work has been inspired by Global Generation’s 3D specialist, Siw Thomas. Siw, with 30 years of Art and Technology experience, as a secondary school teacher, has always had a passion for 3D work and feels that children can really benefit from it in so many ways. It could be argued that this way of working, in an exploratory and three-dimensional way reflects the unfolding story of the Universe itself.
What was also great to hear, was how the student’s involvement in the project boosted their confidence and sense of self-esteem. Below is a photograph of Oliver and his wonderful representation of the Solar System. Underneath, you can read what Oliver’s mother felt were some of the benefits of the program.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this project. To the teachers at Kingsdale – Lily, Tobias and Lucy. The Global Generation team who supported it in so many different ways. To the parents and families who came for the presentation. And of course, to the students themselves who brought so much creativity, enthusiasm and aspiration to the project. You have given me so much to feel inspired and thankful for and I can’t wait to see the next step of how of their work will develop and evolve in the future!