December 2008 and it’s cold, dull and miserable outside, but what should we find in a Redcar primary school hall, but an array of beautiful brightly coloured birds perched on trees with a perfect blue sky and fluffy white clouds in the background. So, they may be made of felt, but they have transformed St Benedict’s Catholic VA Primary School hall into a fantasy tropical paradise.
For six weeks, textile artist Serena Partridge has been working with those pupils, who have designed and made their own 3D fantasy birds and trees using felt-making. Katie Haycock, the teacher responsible for gifted and talented pupils, contacted Tees Valley Arts because she wanted to give pupils who excelled in art the opportunity to work with a professional artist, producing a permanent piece for exhibition within the school.
Jane Gray, Education Officer at Tees Valley Arts said “Watching the group choose the colours they wanted to use, then carefully pull the soft wool apart to layer up their design was fascinating – the concentration tongues came out and the children were fully immersed! Even when Serena gave them the water spray guns to dampen the wool prior to soaping and rolling it, there were no water fights, just absolute focus and enjoyment in what they were doing.”