Arts projects and school grounds
Arts projects can be integrated into the school outdoor environment, or use it as an inspiration, to provide another way of seeing it.
Thornwell school at Chepstow created a Friendship Bench to enable their pupils to support one another and encourage them to carry these skills into the wider community. The pupils designed the bench, which was created by chainsaw artist Andy O’Rourke using oak from Cwmcarn Forest.
Three schools, and Mounton House School in the Chepstow area were able to share a locally felled tree which was used to create sculptures and benches which local pupils were involved in designing. The sculptures were created by Neil Gow.
Other ideas include willow tunnels and play spaces, amphitheatres for storytelling and drama, huts based on primitive designs from history using locally sourced materials such as straw and clay, murals and paths that tell a story.
Artworks don’t have to be permanent features; the artist Andy Goldsworthy creates works using natural materials such as autumn leaves stitched together into ribbons using thorns, and ice sculptures whose short ephemeral life give a special meaning to it. Children learn to cooperate and combine their ideas and skills in making environmental art.
Batik and dyed banners (some plant materials make excellent natural dyes) is another area that can be explored, and fits well with Fairtrade and Global Citizenship projects. Wool can be felted to make fabric hangings, covers and three dimensional artworks, and is also a good choice for applying other materials to it.
Outside school, there is a Literacy Trail at Goytre Wharf developed by Forest Education Initiative, with support from a number of other local organisations. The Trail follows a circular route enhanced by a series of sculptures designed to inspire literacy activities in the outdoors.