School makes “moor art” for Discovery Centre – Ecclesall Juniors become wildlife sculptors in unique art project
If you go down to the moors today, you might see a mountain hare or a ceramic stoat! During spring, the Moorland Discovery Centre team at the National Trust’s Longshaw Estate teamed up with Ecclesall Junior School and local artist Caroline Chouler-Tissier from Buxton. The pupils from Ecclesall Juniors worked hard in groups to bring their interpretations of the moorland wildlife to life by creating cool clay sculptures.
The project got off to a shaky start as heavy snow challenged whether it could go ahead, but dates were rearranged and finally the snow melted. 18 pupils came out to the Moorland Discovery Centre at Longshaw, where the project was based. The task was to create some permanent artwork to be displayed in moorland planter beds in the grounds of the centre, in a small area called Ward’s Croft.
The first day getting out onto the moors and investigating the wildlife on a moorland walk, and doing sketches using charcoal to get the pupils inspired by the landscape. The groups made clay plates with different moorland food chains including plants and creatures. On Day two Caroline taught the group various techniques to use while working with the clay, these skills were then put to use, creating life sized creatures, including a stoat, a hen harrier, a snow hare and a grouse. Caroline then took all the clay creations away to be fired in a kiln.
A couple of weeks later Ecclesall Juniors and Caroline, along with all the art creations still in one piece, returned to the Moorland Discovery Centre. The last day was a busy one, with all the final pieces needing to be glazed. Tough decisions had to be made to select appropriate colours for each piece, the creatures were glazed. One pupil said “Caroline’s really helped us to learn about how to make a clay sculpture from the start to the end – and it stood up!”
Sarah Taylor, visitor Experience Intern for the National Trust at Longshaw, who coordinated the project from start to finish as a part of her internship, says: “Working with Caroline who is an amazing artist, and Ecclesall Juniors who got stuck into learning about ceramics and moorland wildlife, really made the project special. It was a unique experience for to organise such a project, especially as the final sculptures look so impressive!”
The sculptures have now been installed and are on show in the Moorland Discovery Centre grounds for all to see. The plates are displayed on the sides of the beds and the moorland wildlife has been made to feel at home in the planter beds. If you would like to see the final pieces in place, feel free to have a look in the grounds of the centre, or call the centre staff on 01433 637907 to arrange a visit.