The story began with an invitation from The Movement Centre, local children’s physiotherapy charity, attached to The Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital: we would paint an image to brighten up the outside of the building, making it inviting for children arriving for treatment.
Working to a real brief was an exciting challenge and one that I was keen to involve all pupils in, from Year 3 to Upper Four. I visited the Centre to meet the team, see the building, see the work they do and discuss the brief. The design had to include their kite logo and flying high motto as well as feature figures and to be all inclusive and welcoming to the families – the design was in our hands.
The Junior students were assigned to create a mural for inside the Centre, they began by drawing from their imagination. We soon had a 1.3metre design of a sky scene featuring drawings from over 50 children. They focused on ‘Movement’: dogs were lifted by balloons, kites carried teddies and mermaids floated on clouds. Bats, springs, stilt walkers, hot air balloons and inventions, to launch you into the air, can all be seen. The design was drawn and painted, then presented in assembly to the Movement Centre as a welcoming feature in their foyer.
The Seniors were tasked with the outside of the building. Pupils decided they wanted big bold designs, accounting for any visually impaired children using the centre. Inspired by a recent exhibition in Oswestry of Matisse’s Paper Cut-Outs. Pupils drew moving figures with continuous lines and used drawing software to create simple shaped figures. Inspired by photographs of an aging Matisse when he was almost blind and making art from his wheelchair, we too painted paper and cut directly with scissors to create our figures. The tables quickly filled with pupils’ designs. Inspired by Amelia Jones’s designs for plants bigger than figures, a final design was complete and presented to the Movement Centre. Their logo kites were added to each figure and colours chosen.
On arrival at the Movement Centre, paint was mixed and the design was drawn out with chalk on a long stick. Scaling up and fitting the design around the windows was the biggest challenge, apart from the weather! Minibuses brought teams of Upper Four pupils in their aprons and we painted in the rain and in the baking sun. We were encouraged by the stream of lovely comments from people working at the hospital and the patients visiting.
The success of the final mural was the strong lines, simple shapes, vivid colours and size of the figures. We were not sure what the Movement Centre were expecting when they initially asked us, but everyone who drives around and sees it, stops and smiles and this was our vision. We are just a little bit proud too, that our little drawings can have such a big audience and have an impact for many years to come.
- Jan Miller, Moreton Hall Art Teacher