by 52 Weeks of Art

Students at the Friary School were recently offered the opportunity to bring to life the inventions and discoveries of Lichfield’s famous Georgian resident, Erasmus Darwin.

International new media artist Andy Mckeown gave around 300 students from all age groups within the school the opportunity to learn how to utilize new media processes by animating Darwin’s life’s work. The project, which is part of a major community arts project funded by Tesco, allowed budding young artists the chance to embrace contemporary art practice and be involved in the production of a unique artwork. Each student produced their own short animation which when combined together will produce a stunning collection which will be displayed at a free exhibition on the 21st August at Erasmus Darwin House.

Andy is at the forefront of new media fine art, and his work has been received with much acclaim in exhibitions worldwide, including a recent major work shown at an international projection art exhibition in Florida. As a gift at the end of the weeks workshop project Andy was kind enough to give the school one of his highly collectable mono-prints.

As part of the workshops children were invited to look into the life of Darwin, choose one of his many inventions and then utilize artistic software developed by Andy to create quite stunning individual animations. The Project, which also involved students from Saxon Hill School, has had a big impact upon the school.

“Thank you for the workshops with Andy, we have had a great week. Approximately 300 students and 10 staff have taken part in Andy’s animation workshop. All have embraced the new programmes and have been inspired to continue. It has also had an impact on teaching and learning. The Science department, Saxon Hill School and the ART Department will integrate the programme into new schemes of work. We are also looking at staff development for other subjects. Andy’s enthusiasm and energy resulted in some interesting out comes. We were all over welled with Andy’s generous gift of an original piece of Art work to the school.” Tina Woodward, Art Department

The project and exhibition are one of a number of art based workshops projects and exhibitions in the city over the next 4 months of art which have been funded by Tesco. There will be further chances for people to get involved in the project through free public art workshops during the Big Draw, on October the 9th, as well as through further project being carried out as a part of the project.

Peter Walker Project Coordinator “The aim of the community art project is to bring in artists of the highest calibre to work with different community groups. Andy is an artist with an international reputation and I am delighted that we managed to bring him to the Friary School for a week to carry out this project. By working with such artists, those involved in the workshops are getting a fantastic insight into what it is to be an artist, and furthermore an understanding of artistic possibilities. Tesco’s funding of the project is allowing access to a variety of artistic disciplines with the results being displayed to the general public”.