Day and Night Winged Bulls: an exploration of community by pupils from St John Highbury Vale Church of England Primary School and Gillespie Primary School
In spring 2016 artist Ella Medley-Whitfield and Islington Museum worked with pupils from year 4 at St John Highbury Vale Church of England Primary School and year 3 at Gillespie Primary School on an art project inspired by Day and Night, Winged Bulls by Peter Yates (1920-1982). It was a chance for pupils from different schools to make new friends, share ideas and be creative together.
‘I liked the opportunity to make friends with Gillespie by working with them.’ Zac
‘I think the children from Gillespie were nervous by we did well at getting to know each other.’ Eddie
‘I enjoyed talking to my partner about what it was like in his school.’ Benji L
‘If you look closely at the mural you can see: St Paul’s Cathedral, dolphins, a flying bull, and sword, a well and a path.’ Thalia
Bevin Court is a grade II* listed housing scheme built by famous Modernist architect Berthold Lubetkin. Peter Yates was invited to paint a mural in the foyer reflecting the local area. He painted a bold abstract mural using themes from the Finsbury coat of arms. Since 2014 Islington Museum, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund has been conserving and restoring this famous mural to its original splendour. Find out more about the mural and Bevin Court on the project website.
Working together, pupils from St John and Gillespie explored the mural, looking at the different symbols and discussing what they thought they meant. They were particularly fascinated by the image of the dolphin and St Paul’s cathedral. Pupils then began to think about their local area, the buildings, spaces and communities that are important to them. They debated what images they would choose to represent their schools, as well as their shared identity as part of the local community.
‘I worked very well Ahmed. I was good at drawing and he was good at cutting. We made a perfect team. I loved the idea of the art project with Gillespie.’ Krishna
‘We combined the St John’s and Gillespie symbols together to make our picture. We fitted in as many different flags as we could to show that everyone is equal no matter which city or country you are from.’ Poppy
‘If you look closely at our banner you can see that it has landmarks such as the Emirates Stadium. There are also symbols like the London Underground sign.’ Niamh
Pupils from the two schools were paired to create these collaborative images. Once they had agreed on their designs, they drew the images on to lino. Using lino cutters, they had the challenging task of then cutting out their designs. It took a lot of perseverance!
‘I was most proud of my partner because he tried really hard with the lino tool.’ Eliza
‘The lino cutters were very difficult to use because they hurt your hands but the hard work paid off because the prints look wonderful.’ Phoebe
‘I learned how to use a lino tool. It was fun although it was really difficult because the lino was so strong.’ Martha
Then the really fun bit happened, as pupils used printing ink to print their lino block on to fabric. Each pair printed two fabric artworks, one for the St John banner, and one for Gillespie. The fabric pieces were finally sewn together by pupils to create the two textile banner.
‘I found the printing challenging, but I love challenges!’ Eddie
‘I felt very proud when I saw my print because it looked excellent.’ Milo
The final banners were displayed at Islington Museum in June 2016, alongside photos of the project.
Look at the banner to explore what is important to our pupils. Join us in celebrating our shared identity as part of the same local community.
What we thought about the project:
‘I noticed that Gillespie call their teachers by their first name instead of their surname.’ Ruby
‘I really enjoyed working with Alice. It was fun to meet her.’ Cali
‘I enjoyed working with my new friend, Lucy. She had really good ideas.’ Thalia
‘I worked with Maya. She has loads of good ideas. It was good because they didn’t just talk to their friends, they let you join into their chats.’ Polly
‘I enjoyed working with my partner because he was really kind and we made friends really quickly.’ Benjy P
‘I am most proud of learning how to use lino because it is a fun skill. I also learned to sew!’ Benji L
‘I enjoyed using the lino cutters because I have never used them before.’ Precious
‘It was very funny when my partner Michael got yellow paint on his nose.’ Leyla
‘It was really funny when I got orange paint all over my face!’ Martha