In 2015 I visited the school and talked with the head of art; Jane McDonald, about the possibility of creating a site-specific artwork for the Science Atrium. The intention was to work with 101 year 10 students to explore innovative ways of working in three dimensions within the art, craft and design GCSE courses.
Subsequent visits to the school underlined the energy of learning inherent within the fabric of the building. Increasingly I viewed the school as a creative nest, a home for the sharing and discussion of knowledge. We ran a series of workshops with students from both the science and art departments, exploring words suggestive of different types of energy, processes and outcomes found within physics, chemistry and biology. Our intention was to enable the girls to work in design teams, exploring creative, design and engineering possibilities in relation to the project.
Books, even in a digital age, are still a powerful symbol of learning. My proposal was that each one of the students would create, either singly or collaboratively, a three-dimensional Book/Bird that would express their personality or interests. The books would be suspended at different heights underneath the glass skylights in the atrium space. The Book/Birds would ‘fly’ through the atrium space and into the outer world, representative of aspiration, personality, enquiry and future career paths.
The most complex part of the project was the installation of the individual pieces within the atrium. Jane McDonald, in conjunction with a yachting rigging company, devised a simple but effective way of suspending the individual works in space. The support I personally received from the school was exemplary. The success of project is entirely due to the school’s senior management team, in particular the Headmistress; Rebecca Dougall, Head of Art; Jane McDonald,the teaching and technical staff in art and science and of course the enthusiasm and creativity of all the girls.