Wednesday 9th May saw Wellington’s year 10 art pupils heading down to Shanghai’s riverside at the back of the Mercedes Benz Stadium, where a uniquely beautiful and peaceful sculpture park is situated. Our young artists made a relaxed yet thorough exploration of the park as part of the “People and Places” IGCSE topic that they are currently studying.
The natural beauty surrounding them gave pupils plenty of inspiration to work with, leading them to produce a range of excellent sketches and photographs of the well-maintained plants and flowerbeds, not to mention the riverside with its moored boats gently bobbing up and down. The “people” element wasn’t lacking either, as pupils respectfully and discreetly captured images of parkgoers as they jogged, cycled, danced, or simply sat back and fished contentedly.
“Even on a quieter day, there’s so much going on in the park and it’s really valuable for art pupils to get out and find their own ‘real life’ scenes to draw, instead of always relying on recreating images found online from their phones. It’s also great to be with the pupils and encourage them to look for the unusual in these situations, and not just going for the obvious view point when taking photographs or drawing.”
– Mrs Beastall
Another key focus of the excursion was the exploration of the park’s sculptures. Made entirely out of manhole covers, each of the 21 abstract figures were dedicated to an individual nationality, representing 21 different cultures in celebration of the 21st century. Here, the pupils engaged in some timed drawing exercises. After picking their sculpture of choice, each young artist created a 10-minute sketch, followed by a 3-minute drawing of the same viewpoint, and finally a 30-second version. This technique instilled in the pupils the importance of letting their hands and eyes capture the essence of what they saw before them, without overthinking and unnecessarily complicating the process.
“It was such a relaxing trip, because we had a lot of freedom to walk around and draw the things that caught our eye. The sculptures themselves were pretty cool but actually quite hard to draw, especially the one I chose! I like my 30-second drawing the most, because when you have such little time to spare, your mind isn’t cluttered and you naturally capture the most important lines of what you see, without focusing too much on the detail. It’s a great technique and it’s fun to mix it up! “
“The sculptures were a very interesting mix of styles – some of them you could spot the nationality very easily whereas others were really abstract to the point where you had to use your imagination a little! Still, we got some great primary images for our project and I really enjoyed sketching the park’s nature as well as the people who were there to enjoy it.”
The year 10 art pupils will be taking what they’ve seen and learned at the sculpture park back into the classroom with them, as the primary images they created during the trip will form the basis of their IGCSE coursework. Taking a primary image of their choice, each pupil will have to recreate the scene, but in the style of an artist chosen from a list of appropriate practitioners.
With all Wellington’s off-campus trips and expeditions, the idea is to give pupils access to different and exciting learning opportunities that spark their creative and academic interest as much as possible. By giving them access to new learning environments, pupils can take fresh perspectives back with them to the classroom, broadening their outlook on any given subject. By all accounts, the sculpture park trip has done just that, and we look forward to seeing what year 10 can produce for their coursework project in three weeks’ time.