For Swanlea School’s rear atrium, I would like to create an artwork which depicts a future East London. This will not be a completed cityscape but one in the making, to emphasise the constant change our urban environment is subject to. Amongst the buildings, large abstract figures will be making this future city in a number of ways - watering rooftop gardens, threading cable networks together, and building bridges, amongst many other activities. These figures will be projections of the Swanlea students, and the cityscape a future East London which they aspire to create.
This subject matter directly adresses the school’s theme of Place. It also addresses the words that make up the Swanlea motto: Aspiration, as it will be the students’ projection of a future city, and Acheivement, as it pictures the city being built. The cityscape will also include symbols of Whitechapel, its notable buildings and history alongside the students’ personal accounts of their culture and connection to East London. This will address the third word in the Swanlea motto; respect, by acknowledging a Whitechapel of the present and the pas, and further emphasize the school’s theme of Place in the design.
The design will combine two styles in which I commonly work. The city and built elements will be detailed and complex, containing many repeated patterns and motifs.
The large figures interspersed throughout the cityscape will be bold, sillouette based and brightly coloured.
The combination of these two giant and minature scales will create a design which is striking from a distance but compelling when examined close up. The text supplied by the students and the project information will be displayed on scrolls which weave through and unify the entire design.
The resulting artwork wil be graphic, bold and colourful, with detailed elements and heraldic scrolls.
School Engagement | Text Prompts
Prior to workshops run at Swanlea, each of the participating students will given and envelope containing a question:
How would you create an East London of the Future? Write one sentence in response to this question which includes the word enclosed in this envelope. Be creative and imaginative!
In the envelope alongside this question will be a verb which the students have to include in their sentence; constuct, weave, grow, for instance. Selected students responses to this task will form part of the text which scrolls through the landscape, and also the actions being performed by the figures in it.
School Engagement | Workshops The following workshops would aim to engage years 7,8, and 9 with the design theme, encourage them to think about their backgrounds, learn about the history of Whitechapel, and consider how to visually tell a story using symbolism and metaphor.
1. City of the Future
I would supply pictures of various elements of buildings and which students would cut-out and combine alongside their own drawings to create create new cityscapes. This approach is similar to a workshop I ran at the V&A earlier this year with slightly older students which used cut-outs of various animal parts to create imaginary creatures.
2. Stories of the City
I will ask the students to think about their personal connections with East London and to depict these visually. Then we will then read my illustrated book On The Other Side of Town, to generate more imaginative and fanciful stories of the city.
3. Symbols of East London
For this workshop we will look at the history of East London, and the idea of symbols. I will set tasks which encourage the students to depict the history creatively, rather than visually representing ideas in a straightforward way.
4. On Site Drawing
I will visit the rear atrium site with the students and ask them to draw elements of the school building and its surroundings. We will then return to the classroom and see if we can use these studies to generate patterns and motifs that could be used in the artwork design.
5. Whitechapel Tour (if permitted)
If it is possible to travel out of the school with the students, we will do a ‘walkshop’, which involves touring the area and drawing notable buildings. Each stop will be introduced by me with information about the history of the building we are drawing. This approach is based a workshop I ran this summer for UCL, which connected various places in Bloomsbury to the history, folklore and representation of notable women in the area.