The birds are flying...
Yesterday and today we were incredibly busy installing the birds in the ceiling space at Abbey Campus of Dunkirk Primary School (Nottingham). It's so wonderful to see them hung in the space, they look amazing (if we say so ourselves!) and its so special to be able to hang up children's creations in this way.
The birds are hung in the large Victorian ceiling area of the central space that will become the school library. Every child in the school - and very many parents (see previous blog post) have made at least one bird each to add to this flock. The birds have been made in a variety of ways and we really love how this gives a quirky feel to the flock - there's such an essence of individuality as well as wholeness and togetherness.
The project is a real illustration of team work. Julie Wise and I (both artists working at the school) have led the project with wonderful help from Abbie Balkitis, a fine art student on placement with me. As part of that placement Abbie has done a brilliant job spending several days checking through all the birds and adding strengthening where needed (she's done a wonderful job of not altering any of the children's creations at all, just ensuring they had enough strong points to take the wires).
The ceiling area is really high, so we've used a scaffold tower to reach - with an excellent basket and string contraption to pull the birds up to the top! All of us were excited by this piece of engineering and the children were fascinated watching us as we worked - they loved the basket full of birds being pulled up into the roof space! My lack of a head for heights meant Julie (who can cope with heights!) did an amazing job tying the birds in at the top of the tower; I've spent the last two days hunched over on the floor tying fishing line onto the birds and popping them into the basket! And all of us kept having to stop and gather at various points underneath to assess where the next set of birds should hang!
The birds are all created from old books that were part of the library when the building was Lenton Primary School - it feels special to give the worn books new life in this way. We now intend to plan some storytelling sessions underneath the birds with the children who made them.
It's rare to be able to install children's creations in a school in this way. We've been lucky to have an empty space to work with; from a practical point of view it enabled us to have a scaffold tower up and move it along the room. But it also sums up so much of the ethos of Dunkirk Primary School in terms of wanting the project to truly be the creations and ideas of the children; for it to be something that enabled each individual to be recognised and valued but which also celebrated community. Its a project that illustrates wonderfully the importance of involving families in school and we are so pleased that so many parents and carers came along to make birds with their children.
The natural light flooding into the space has illuminated the birds wonderfully - and we've loved watching it change throughout the day. There have been some really gorgeous shadows cast onto the walls and great reflections into the windows too.
We've also found ourselves transfixed by the way some of the birds just very gently spin on their own axis - its quite mesmerising to stand / sit / lie underneath and watch them. We think there are at least 300 hung up there, all at different levels - every time you look you notice new things and different details.