Tasked with the challenge to bring more ‘wonder and delight’ to the School refectory, the pupils’ work has certainly hit the right mark, with feedback including praise such as, “Year 8 have given Matisse a run for his money” and “I particularly like the patterns on the refectory floor on a sunny day”. So, we asked Design Teacher, Mrs Dell, to tell us how the transformation came about.
We start with the project brief, described by Mrs Dell:
The project required the pupils to design window treatments that invigorated and added interest and colour to the refectory, whilst still allowing in light.None of the refectory windows afforded a scenic view. The north-facing windows offered a view of grass and the south-facing windows a view of walls and more windows. I suggested that there may be architectural merit in leaving some clear glimpses and views of these historical features.
What materials were used?
We used 1220mm-wide, dyed transparent vinyl film. The vinyl film is sold in a selection of solid colours on a roll and is adhesive backed. It was cut into desired shapes and applied wet to the glass, and then fixed once dry. The nature of this material is that it can be layered or single layered. The pupils were asked to make test pieces to determine the best translation of a design.
Was there a theme for the project?
The theme for this project was ‘Oasis and Gardens: Food and Wonder’. The garden has long been a symbol of retreat and sustenance: the most respected gardeners being those with the ability to harness nature to produce food to consume, as well as creating places of pure wonder and delight. This reflects the context of the refectory as a place of food and sustenance and communal gathering. This project’s aim, therefore, was to bring more of the ‘wonder and delight’ to this space.
Were there any specific sources of inspiration?
Artists such as Henri Rousseau from the 19th century, Matisse from the 20th century and contemporary artists David Hockney and Angie Lewin provided inspiration so that the pupils could study and consider:
• Natural subject matter
• Colour and impact
• Composition and design.
Tell us more about the concept development process?
To help them think about the brief, pupils used Pinterest to source inspirational artists. They were shown how to create a mind map (visual diagram) in their sketchbooks, linking related items together with arrows or lines and asked to investigate and show evidence of thinking about:
• What questions could be asked of the brief?
• What they had observed in the refectory?
• Whether there were any other considerations?
• Which artist they were going to be inspired by?
And so it was that the refectory windows became visual works of art – particularly in their element when the sun shines. The entire Year Group came together in a collaborative project, with each class assigned either the north or south windows.
“Not only did it provide the opportunity for the pupils to participate in a ‘live project to intervene in the built environment’, but they learnt lessons about teamwork, the pros and cons of collaboration, the difficulties of translating ideas into reality. They all participated in lively debate when evaluating the finished scheme,” said Mrs Dell.
Now, with her maternity cover at Worth completed, Mrs Dell is about to start on a PGCE at Goldsmiths, University of London.