Gruffalo Wood & Art History Timeline Mural at Meadowside Primary

May – July 19

It was six years ago when I first worked with Josie Garnham. Back then she was Head of Titchmarsh Primary School and had a different name. She then became Executive Head of both Titchmarsh and Warmington Primary Schools and over the next couple of years she invited me to lead several art workshops with children as well as to paint murals. In fact there were seven ‘Bigger Picture’ projects in total. It’s been three years since our last collaboration and a lot has changed in both our worlds in that time. I was so pleased when she made contact to work with her again.

It’s a school that’s new to me, Meadowside Primary in Burton Latimer, a place I’ve always referred to as Weetabix Town, and Josie was appointed Head last year. Having spent much of the last couple of years working with Fulbridge Academy and Rowlatts Hill the first thing that hit me as soon as I walked in the door was the empty magnolia painted corridor. During a tour of the school she outlined her vision to significantly improve the appearance of several areas, but top of that list was that first seen corridor as one enters the school.

A ‘Gruffalo Wood’ reading/retreat area next to the admin office was beginning to be established, and Josie asked if the corridor leading towards it could bring the subject of landscape within the walls of the building, with ‘meadow’ being the predominant theme for the painting. Rather than invent an imaginary pastureland scene I suggested that we could transform the area into a space that presented a potted history of landscape painting.

I’d made a couple of visits to the school and taken measurements of the walls in order to make a plan, however as I developed my design ideas they became more than a little ambitious. Me being me, and to make my job even harder, because that’s what I do, I decided it would make a much more interesting painting if I divided the composition into three sections, which reflected the shape of the corridor.

The first section was already established, being agreed that there would be a Gruffalo Wood with a landscape theme leading to/from it.

The final section would naturally be at the opposite end of the corridor, where there was another entrance/exit door, and in this portion I thought a short art history lesson could be incorporated as a timeline.

The area between these two sections was an opportunity to identify and celebrate local artistic achievement. As the school is less than 5 miles to the centre of Kettering, I felt this section could give prominence to the work of a trio of Kettering artists (Alfred East, Thomas Cooper Gotch & Walter Bonner Gash) who had quite a reputation in their day. The Alfred East Gallery is located in the centre of the town and so included in the design are interpretations of some paintings from the permanent collection which are sympathetic with the corridor theme.

The project began with a request to paint a landscape themed painting, the composition I delivered is an edited illustration of the development of image-making through the ages stretching back 40,000 years. All the images I selected have a back story that can be explored further, so the inclusion of QR codes are also an additional feature for personal investigation.

Featured on the walls are Cave, Neolithic, Egyptian, Mycenaean, Byzantine, Classical Greek, Gothic, Romantic, Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Expressionist, Cubist, Surrealist, Modernist and even Spiritual examples, before contemporary Children’s Book Illustration gets a mention. Oh, I forgot the Middle Ages, there’s the arrow in the eye of King Harold section of the Bayeux Tapestry thrown in for good measure too.

Out of a molehill I made a mountain. Do I make things difficult for myself or what!!!!!!!!

Meadowside Primary, Park Road, Burton Latimer, Northants NN15 5QY

 

References:

Cave

Neolithic

Egyptian

Mycenaean

Byzantine

Classical Greek

Middle Ages (Romanesque)

Gothic

Kettering Artists

Romanticism

Impressionism

Post-Impressionism

Expressionism

Cubism

Surrealism

Modernism

The Gruffalo 1999

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