Project: Mixed Media – Full Circle
Participants: Year 3 pupils
Partnering with: Field Lane JI&N
Artist: Fiona Goodwin
Science topic: Plant Life Cycles
For our chosen topic, The Life Cycle of Flowering Plants, we are going to explore pollination, seed formation and dispersal. We will make observations and create drawings as part of our research and document the various stages of plant life – the changes from seed to sprout, seedling to plant. Then we will use this information to inspire artwork that reflect these qualities and changes. We will experiment with different materials and textile techniques alongside our research to develop our final exhibition piece – probably a series of sequential artworks or an installation.
We’ve carefully selected and gathered some seeds in our quest to uncover some interesting facts about the characteristics and changes that take place in the life cycle of plants. We’ve started to look for differences between our seeds, carefully observing and capturing their individual characteristics through line drawing and monochrome studies. We’ve enlarged them using magnification to help us look for greater detail, and created carbon copies to achieve a variety of marks. This is just the beginning, our homework now is more research to help us uncover more information about our seed – its growing conditions, how it pollinates and who/what distributes our incredible edible or inedible seed to bring about the changes it needs to flourish and to change from seed to seedling to plant. It’s all very exciting, we’ve had a great afternoon and enjoyed watching some short BBC clips about germination and healthy plant growth, and discussing our findings as a group.
“There are light parts inside the seed…..I never realised that mustard came from a seed”
“I loved learning about the carbon paper and how you can copy from top to a bottom sheet”
“Dandelion seeds are tiny and much easier to see through a magnifying glass…..my tortoise eats them!”
We’ve been really busy since the last session with further research – sowing seeds, exploring germination processes, testing seeds in different conditions and learning some interesting plant facts. Our seeds are great. We move on now to the stems, focusing on our water and nutrient transporters and how they feed and nourish the leaves. We’re working with wet media, experimenting with different tools and marks, drawing water up the stems, white on black this time, it’s easier to see. There are some beautiful results and excitement too about the session ahead. We’re looking forward to constructing our seed heads, flowers and fruit and looking at the function of other parts of the plant.
“From drawing such a thick sunflower stem, we learnt that the stem has to be so thick to carry up water and nutrients to its large sunflower head!”
“In my drawing, the stem is carrying up lots of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant”
“There are lots of different sizes of stems”
“I have seen nibbed pens before but never drawn with them. I’ve never drawn with a stick before either!”
Working today in our final session there was a feeling that it had all gone so quickly, too quickly, there has been so much to learn and discover and so many materials to explore. We were keen to get started and make the most of our time as we began to look beyond the stems and focus in more closely on the heads and flowers of the plants we’ve selected. We started with simple line drawings suggesting the shapes and forms we individually needed to construct within our groups. Then we worked mainly with wire in a variety of gauges and thicknesses, making choices and decisions as we manipulated materials to re-draw our shapes. We produced some really pleasing forms that looked very similar to our drawings. We even managed to add more detail relating to the sepals and petals with carefully bound threads and fibres, creating stamens from wire filaments and tiny polystyrene spheres. Although we initially felt it to be a bit of a struggle, we persevered and began to understand and work with the materials, so we got there in the end and were able to stand back and admire some lovely qualities within our pieces. There are still some finishing touches to be made and some elements to be completed but we’re more than happy to be continuing with this over the next week or so and are really looking forward to viewing our work in the gallery.
“I’ve enjoyed learning about the different parts of a plant through art. I’ve been able to see what we’ve learned about in science in my drawings”
“I can’t wait to see my finished work!”
“When are we doing more art workshops?!”
“I really like it when Fiona comes in because we get to try things we have never tried before”
“I didn’t know you could do art with wire and so many different materials!”
Through the sessions, the children had the opportunity to use different materials and master textile and 3D modelling skills. They thoroughly enjoyed this, as did the teachers! This is something that we wouldn’t have done had it not been for the project.
These sessions have been really positive, giving different children a chance to shine. All children were engaged in the sessions due to pure interest and enjoyment. Children were able to use their creativity and trial and error. It was especially nice that the artist told them ‘there is no such thing as a mistake in learning’. The children weren’t afraid to make mistakes when trying new things – a message we are constantly trying to get across to them in Maths and Science!!