At the start of the 18/19 academic year our school was fortunate enough to be asked to become involved in a Carmarthenshire project called ‘The Lost Words’. It brought to our attention that words from the natural environment that had been lost from the Oxford Children’s Dictionary in favour of modern, technological vocabulary as pupils are not using them in their writing any longer. Therefore out went words such as ‘acorn’ and ‘kingfisher’ and they were replaced by words like ‘download’ and ‘gigabyte’. Author Robert McFarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris wrote poems and drew illustrations to stand against the disappearance of this wild childhood. It is a joyful celebration of nature words and the natural world they invoke.
As a school we decided to work with local Artists called Tina and Colin Lewis who are based in Pembrokeshire at their farm - Penderry. Penderry is a favoured site for eco land art because of its varied landscapes. Colin and Tina have been involved with many children's art, sculpture and mural projects. Tina takes regular art classes in the farm's well-equipped studio.
Initially all pupils worked alongside both Tina and Colin as part of an art workshop based on the flora and fauna from the book. The children studied and drew/painted images from this session and Tina and Colin took the drawings/paintings back to their farm and using them as a base, drew them onto primed marine plywood, outlining and detailing in acrylic paint, then they fretting them out into plaques or creatures. They prepared them by sandpapering all edges and painted the edges with primer.
The artists returned to school with the plaques and fretted out creatures, acrylics, some overalls,brushes, palettes, reference pictures for a second workshop which was held outside. All the children painted the animals and plants and backgrounds onto the pre jigsaw fretted out pieces.
These Lost Word shapes were then taken out and hung onto the trees at will, and are used for all age groups, eg. “ go and bring back only things with feathers, or this group to bring back things starting with the letters B and C, or things that live in the water,” etc.
The plaques were made so they can be packed flat or hung inside when not in use, giving maximum benefit and exposure.
The pupils spent two days with Tina and Colin and created a set of personal, unique masterpieces.
Where did we put it? We are able to put them wherever tey are needed as they are largely portable however an area of woodland behind the school was developed and spaces cleared to create outdoor classrooms.
During the summer term we were asked to take examples of our porject along to a Lost Words celebration event with the authors/illustrators of the book and the other schools who took part on the project.
Pupils and the project's staff lead Mrs Bransden had a very exciting morning sharing our Lost Words art project with other amazing Carmarthenshire schools and the author Jackie Morris herself!