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Learning Materials

Mail Art: printing stamps and image transfers

In 2015, as part of the Arts Council England funded project ‘Putting the Wunder back into the Wunderkammer,’ Islington Museum worked with Highbury Grove School, artist Carl Stevenson From All Change and the British Postal Museum and Archive (BPMA.) Students were inspired by the BPMA’s unique collection of mail art, historical letters and curious addresses, identifying
elements they’d like to incorporate into their own mail art. Students explored a range of different media and techniques, including print making, stamp making and using vinyl. Their final work was displayed at the BPMA archive  in January 2015.

Ever since the invention of the postal service, people have sent weird and wonderful things through the post. The American artist Ray Johnson is considered to be the first person to send an artwork through the post. Today artists use a range of media and techniques to create mail art. Mail art can incorporate everything from collage to print works, even the position of the stamp on the envelope can convey a hidden message to the recipient.

Resource list

  • Pencil
  • Polytile
  • Paint trays
  • Printing ink
  • Printing rollers
  • Paper

The activity: making stamps

  1. Start with a piece of polytile. Using a pencil, draw your design into the polytile. Designs could be anything from letters, patterns, symbols, small images or emoticons. You will need to be careful to press hard enough into the polytile to make an indentation, but not too hard so that it pierces the polytile.
  2. Put some printing ink on to the paint trays, roll it with a printing roller until it is smooth.
  3. Use the printing roller to put ink on to your polytile, covering your design. Do not use too much ink.
  4. Place the inked side of the polytile on to a piece of paper. Run a clean printing roller over the back of the polytile, pressing it onto the paper.
  5. Carefully peel back the polytile to reveal your printed design on the paper.

 

Resource list

  • Images from old posters and advertising
  • Wide clear parcel tape
  • Basin of warm water
  • PVA glue
  • Paper

The activity: image transfers

  1. Choose an image, it could be from an advert, magazine, book etc. Take a back and white photocopy of your image.
  2. Cut out the photocopy and stick clear parcel tape to the image. You may need to use multiple strips on wider images. Rub the tape to make sure it is in contact with the whole image.
  3. Put the taped image into warm water, covering it gently. Slowly rub away the paper. You will find that the paper will rub away in the water leaving behind the black photocopy image stuck to the tape.
  4. Paint PVA glue on the sticky side of the tape. Stick the image, glue side first on to your paper. Then wait for it to dry.
  5. Once it is fully dry if you are careful you can slowly peel the tape away to leave the photocopy image stuck to the paper.

Mail Art extensions

  • Use the image transfers and rubber stamps to decorate envelopes. Post them to someone else (e.g. school, home, to another organisation) for them to add to your design. Continue posting the sheet back and forth. See how the design develops during the collaboration.
  • Pass each pupil’s designs around the class during the project so that each envelope has a contribution from each pupil.
  • Invent picture codes and make addresses for the envelopes in code. Post the letters and see if they reach the destination. Or pass it around the class and see if the class recipient can decode it.
  • Vary the methods used to decorate the envelopes and even the envelopes themselves, maybe using 3D collage, origami or giant sized envelopes.

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Categories
Learning Materials

Wooden water pipe: art inspired by nature and water

In 2016 artist Sarah Pimenta worked with teacher Denise Quinn and Year 2 at Blessed Sacrament RC Primary School on the exhibition Imagine Islington.

Wooden Water Pipe

In 1613 Sir Hugh Myddleton opened his revolutionary New River, which brought much needed fresh water from Hertfordshire to Clerkenwell. Pipes then took water from Clerkenwell Round Pond to the City of London. These pipes were made from tree trunks, mainly elm. The trunks were individually bored through and joined to create continuous pipes.

The pipes weren’t entirely successful, much of the water supply was lost through leakage. Wooden pipes also had a short lifespan and they tended to absorb gas from leaking gas mains laid alongside, making the water unfit to drink. From 1811 the New River Company started to gradually replace the old wooden pipes with cast-iron ones.

To learn more about the New River and the wooden pipes

A perfect local artefact to inspire natural art: ‘We choose this object to tie in with the artist Andy Goldsworth and use his inspiration from natural forms. Trees are a large part of the natural environment in Islington and it was a good way to encourage appreciation of nature in the local area. I wanted to get the children outside the classroom despite curriculum restraints and SAT’S looming. It encouraged them to make interdisciplinary links and enabled the children to produce inspirational and creative artwork alongside developing their vocabulary.’ 

Denise

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Activity 1: mark making and rain makers

  • dry beans/ peas
  • tape
  • paint (water theme in colours)
  • cardboard tubes
  • sketching materials (pencil, charcoal, chalk)
  • paper
  • water sounds (rivers, different types of rain, waves etc.)
  1. Show the class images of the water log. Discuss the importance of fresh water, where you get water from, what the log could have been used for and if you think it was an effective pipe?
  2. Talk to the class about what the water may have sounded like- think about descriptive words for the movement of water.
  3. Get the pupils to sit at their desks with a piece of paper and sketching materials. Play them different water sounds. Get them to draw what they hear. Use a different drawing material. Try it with your eyes open, then eyes closed.
  4. Get the pupils to choose their favourite marks and cardboard tube.
  5. The pupils then paint their marks on to their cardboard tubes, using ‘watery’ colours.
  6. Once the paint has dried fill the tubes with the beans and tape the ends to create your very own rainmaker.

Activity 2: rubbings

  • paper
  • coloured paper
  • fat wax crayons
  • clip boards
  • pencils
  1. Take the pupils outside into the playground or a natural environment.
  2. Collect different natural materials- leaves and bark are good
  3. Use the crayons and pencils to take rubbings. Experiment with different textures, lines, shapes patterns and colours

To extend the session you could add in a drawing activity from nature or look at Land Art with a focus on an artist like Andy Goldsworthy. Use your collected materials to create natural sculptures outdoors, take a photograph of your creations.

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Activity 3: poly tile printing leaves

  • A5 polytile
  • printing rollers
  • sharp pencils
  • A4 sugar paper
  • block printing ink
  1. Hand the children their leaf drawings from the previous session. Get them to choose their 2 favourites to turn into prints.
  2. Hand out 2 pieces of polytile to each person. Using a pencil, pupils draw their leaf designs into the polytile, filling the sheet. They’ll need to be careful to press hard enough into the polytile to make an indentation, but not too hard so that it pierces the polytile.
  3. Put some printing ink on to the paint trays, roll it with a printing roller until it is smooth.
  4. Pupils use the printing roller to put ink on to their polytile, covering their design. Remind them not to use too much ink.
  5. Pupils place the inked side of the polytile on to a piece of paper. Run a clean printing roller over the back of the polytile, pressing it onto the paper. Carefully peel back the polytile to reveal the printed design on the paper
  6. Pupils can experiment with different colours of paper and ink. They’ll need a number of leaf prints each for activity 4.

Activity 4: collage

  • large sheets of thick paper- black is probably most dramatic
  • the rubbings, drawings and printed leaves from the previous activities
  • coloured paper and tissue
  • pritt sticks
  1. Pupils gather all their natural drawings, rubbings and prints.
  2. In groups they sketch a giant tree onto their piece of paper.
  3. The group then collages their sketch, using their drawings, rubbings and leaves, as well as any extra materials you have. Encourage them to layer, mixing colours, textures and shapes.

 

 Want to know more:

Click here to find out more about the artworks created by Blessed Sacrament RC Primary School and Sarah Pimenta as part of the Imagine Islington Project.

 

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Categories
Education Gallipoli

Learning through Gallipoli

In 2015/16 Islington Museum received funding from the Gallipoli Centenary Education Project to tell the stories of those men who travelled from Islington to Mudros to fight in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Five local primaries, Ashmount, Copenhagen, Drayton Park, Newington Green and Tufnell Park, worked with musicians Jonathan Rees and Firat Derat to explore the campaign from a variety of cultural perspectives. Pupils investigated the Finsbury Rifles’ war diary, learning about their costly campaign and imagining what daily life would have been like for them at Gallipoli.  They also looked at primary sources from both the Ottoman and Allied Forces to explore different experiences of the campaign and its aftermath.

Pupils learnt four songs about the Gallipoli campaign in both English and Turkish.  They also recorded readings of key primary sources, to which they composed an emotive soundscape. This sound background was combined with archival images of the campaign and artwork created as part of separate project. The resulting video is a musical and artistic meditation on the realities of the Gallipoli campaign, its local links and its human cost. A unique resource to explore Islington’s First World War from a truly world perspective.

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In 2015 Islington Museum also worked with Richard Cloudesely Secondary School and Samuel Rhodes Secondary School to produce two printed banners exploring the Finsbury Rifles Campaign. Pupils used mark making techniques to create the peninsula. They then used archival images of the campaign to create stencils, which they screen printed on to the map.

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Finally on the 8th November 2015 four children from Tufnell Park Primary School joined the Gallipoli Association to take part in the Cenotaph march on Remembrance Sunday.

The four children – Amy, Charlie, Natalie and Ruby – said, ‘It was an opportunity to take part in an experience of a lifetime. It helped us realise and feel the importance of remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.’ 

The children brought a wreath which joined the carpet of red beneath the Cenotaph. On the wreath were the words, ‘It is an honour to stand in the presence of our Lord, as we give thanks to the brave souls who sacrificed their lives to make our world a better place. May they rest in peace. Let the memory of Gallipoli live on through generations.’  

You can find lots more fantastic resources about Gallipoli at www.gallipoli100education.org.uk, @GallipoliEd  and http://www.gallipoli-association.org.