Sunday, 20 October 2013

Giant Tunnel Books in Europe with our beloved Cranes in full colour!

A completed tunnel book containing 6 sections depicting Cranes in their vibrant habitat.  The book formed a tunnel that when peered through was like looking into a long theatre with many proscenium arch stages.

I have just returned from leading a Crane themed art workshop in Belgium with 100 children from Turkey, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, Lithuania and UK (Ash School)! We made 9 giant tunnel books that were nearly 2 metres in length! It was a wonderful experience - the pupils were brilliant, creating fantastic, colourful, vibrant and stunning works of art, all inspired by the beloved Cranes and the environment in which they live. We also explored the flora and fauna that share the Cranes habitat. The children worked in mixed groups which was great for learning about the Cranes, making new friends and learning each other’s languages.

I found it so difficult to choose and edit the photos that in the end I decided on a long blog post with lots of images! If you are interested at the end of the blog are the correct words for 'Crane' in the different languages as translated to me by the teachers from Europe. Before I went to Belgium I had a go at translating myself and on the whole got it right - but with a few corrections from the teachers last week! Here are the photos of our creations:

Left: Pupils from Turkey assemble and design book pages. Right: Ozlem, teacher from Turkey, peers through a book page in progress.

Top Left: Pupils and I preparing illustrations. Top Right: Eurasian Cranes bugling against a colourful landscape. Bottom: Peering into the tunnel!

The pupils loved learning about the Cranes and the other insects, birds, fish, animals and flora that share their environment in Somerset and other places in Europe. They took so much care drawing and applying colour with oil pastels and pens to the individual elements, resulting in these lovely pages.

Tunnel books in progress with a beautiful and vibrant book cover top right.

Top Left: Pupils work together to create their book. Top Right: Pupils with their tunnel book which was big enough for them to stand in! Bottom: Another colourful Crane diorama.

I love the green and red Cranes that the children have illustrated. Although you don’t get Cranes with these colours in the wild, we decided we were allowed to use our own ‘Artistic License’ and our imagination to create these story book Cranes that are full of character!

Cranes, Cranes everywhere!

A beautiful diorama with lots of hidden details.

I was so impressed with the amount of details the pupils put into their artwork. This diorama is full of animals, plants and the very back of the book depicts a Crane on a nest in a swamp! Tunnel books are great because you are constantly discovering something inside them as the pages are slightly obscured. It is only on close inspection that all is revealed, meaning you can always re-visit them and find something new. I had one as a child and I still love it to this day.

Pupils from across Europe present their finished tunnel book with Beccy Swaine from Somerset Art Works and I, after a hectic but exciting week of art!

Left: European teachers with one of the pupils finished tunnels. Right: A beautiful tunnel book cover.

Me and Adam Hawkins, a teacher from Ash School, talking about the Great Crane Project on the first day we met the pupils and teachers.

I must mention and thank my fantastic collegue Beccy Swaine from Somerset Art Works for working with me last week.  It was a busy week ending with fabulous results!  Thank you to all the teachers too, Vicky and Adam from Ash School and teachers from across Europe- it was wonderful to work as a team for the week.

Crane - translated into different languages as verified by the European teachers!

Spanish - Gruilla / Grulla
Turkish - Turna
Italian - Gru
Portugese - Cisne
Bulgarian - Jerau
French - Grue
Lithuanian - Gerve
Romanian - Cocor - no Romanian schools in Belgium, but thought I'd include the translation here.


  1. Great to see how you have been able to share your creativity internationally. Lovely work - you can see how the children have been influenced by your love of colour. Congratulations (Felicidades in Spanish!)

  2. Wonderful photos! How nice is to see again all our friends and children involved in painting and creating "Tunnel books"! Thank you, Melanie! Darina, Bulgaria

  3. Thank you Lluis! And thank you Darina - it was lovely to meet you! Say hello to the pupils for me.

  4. Tunnel Books - WOW!! what fantastic artwork ideas children experience today. What a feast of colour and how exciting. These children will have some great memories to take back to their schools to talk about. The Crane Project has engendered such artistic experiences and knowledge of this wonderful natural world. More, more of the same please Melanie. I enjoy following this project and thank you for sharing the experience so regularly.

  5. Beautiful and inspiring work - as always!

    Thank you for sharing this.