Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Schools Crane Twinning Project!

Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium in Brandenburg and Huish Episcopi School in Somerset.
Left: Pupils from Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium  Right: Pupils from Huish Episcopi School
June has been a busy month delivering Crane inspired art workshops to two schools that form part of a fantastic new schools twinning project! The twinned schools are Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium in Germany at the heart of the Biosphere Reserve and Huish Episcopi school at the heart of the Somerset Levels!   A week or so ago I travelled with the Great Crane Project to the Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve in Brandenburg Germany to visit Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium to deliver their Crane art workshops, visiting Huish Episcopi too on my return to do the same. I am very grateful to Jane Munstermann, (Educational Volunteer at Great Crane Project) for running workshops with me in Germany and the UK and teachers Petra Koglin, Susann Schuster and Linda Green.

The twinning project brings together pupils of a similar age with the aim of sharing the story of the Cranes re-introduction to Somerset, through art workshops and related activities with the aim of forging a long term friendship between the schools.
Left: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium spinning a Praxinoscope I made for my ‘Company of Cranes’ commission in 2013. Right: Huish Episcopi pupils viewing photos of Freies Gymnasium pupils with their finished artwork made during my visit.

Whilst the Crane team were out ringing young cranes in the wild, Jane and I visited Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium for two days to deliver metal and mixed media art workshops. The pupils at Freies Gymnasium were able to learn more about the process of the re-introduction of the Cranes to Somerset, try on the Crane rearing suit and generally gain an understanding of how important the eggs collected from the biosphere (the school sits in the centre of it) have been in terms of the re-introduction process.  Jane and I visited Huish Episcopi school using the biosphere as inspiration, learning about the importance of it, it’s legacy for the Somerset Levels in terms of providing a home for Cranes who in turn provide eggs for a future population of Cranes in Somerset.
Top left: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium try on the Crane rearing costume! Top right and centre right: Photos of the Somerset Levels and the Biosphere Reserve for inspiration during the art workshops and metal dioramas in progress.  Bottom left: Damon Bridge, Great Crane Project Manager making a copper bulrush to contribute to an artwork.  Bottom right: Huish Episcopi pupils exploring one of the dioramas made by pupils in Germany which I managed to flat pack and bring back to Somerset!

Pupils from both schools shared information about nature found in each other’s locations, and how the Cranes live and survive in each.  We explored through drawing into metal foils our different landscapes and other flora and fauna that share the Cranes environment.  We discovered many similarities but also differences - the biosphere is heavily forested whereas the Somerset Levels are not. But both have suitable wetland areas for Cranes to thrive.
Top left and right: Pupils at Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium making metal Crane inspired landscapes. Bottom left and right: Pupils at Huish Episcopi School assembling their artwork and creating illustrations for printing onto metal.
Pupils at both schools were very enthusiastic about creating artwork and using metal - for the first time in some instances. Metal is not a material often used in school art classes. I have printed and explored metal in my own art work for nearly 20 years and I was keen for the pupils to experience using such a versatile and beautiful material.  Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium pupils created dioramas (layered pictures a bit like miniature theatres) from aluminium and copper with an emphasis on embossing intricate details into the thin metal foils.  The results were very beautiful as you can see below in this small selection of photos:
Metal dioramas created by pupils from Freies Joachimsthaler Gymnasium depicting wildlife from the Biosphere Reserve and the Somerset Levels including, cranes, dragonflies, wild boar, foxes, butterflies and beetles.
Pupils at Huish Episcopi School also used metal foils that were printed with their own illustrations in the creation of colourful landscapes and miniature worlds inspired by the biosphere reserve and the Somerset Levels. Pupils also shared small components within the artworks – Freies Gymnasium pupils included photographically printed metal Somerset cranes in their artworks and Huish Episcopi Pupils incorporated printed metal bulrushes from the biosphere into their pieces. 
Miniature metal landscapes created by Huish Episcopi pupils inspired by the Biosphere Reserve and Somerset Levels depicting cranes, dragonflies, caterpillars, butterflies, wild flowers, bulrushes and water parsnip.
It is wonderful that Cranes and a shared interest in nature and conservation have brought the two schools together. Pupils will be emailing each other with a view to sharing information and maintaining contact and engaging in more projects in the future. Young people are the future custodians of important places like the Biosphere Reserve and Somerset Levels.  I believe it is imperative that they have the opportunity to partake in such a special project – that being the story of the Cranes re-introduction – so they can pass on these important conservation messages to future generations.
Top row: Some of the Freies Joachimsthaler pupils with their fantastic finished artworks!  Middle row: Some of the Huish Episcopi pupils with their equally amazing finished pieces! Bottom row: Group photos of pupils from both schools.

Here is a link to a special page on the Company of Cranes resource website with lots more photos about the twinning project: http://www.thecompanyofcranes.net/schools-twinning/

Top left: Beate and Eberhard - the wonderful and important conservationists that locate the eggs in the biosphere reserve for collection with the Great Crane Project team. Pictured here with my Schorfheide Chorin Biosphere Reserve Praxinoscope! Other images: - some of my favourite photos of Crane landscapes.