YOUNG ARTS WILDLIFE SCULPTURE PROJECT WITH MARK CORETH
Posted by Debbie Cockrean
Our journey began way back in January 2020 when I attended our local cluster Headteachers meeting. Being new to the role of Young Arts representative I had two purposes for the meeting: to introduce our local Arts Society, in particular, Young Arts; and to gather information from schools about what they would like.
The headteachers were brilliant and shared lots of information and ideas. One aspect of the arts they all identified would be good to explore was sculpture. I took all the information I had gathered back to our committee and, at the next meeting, one of our committee suggested that we work with Mark Coreth – an internationally renowned wildlife sculptor who is great at engaging and enthusing an audience. Everyone was very excited at the idea of getting Mark into a school and working with the children. We had a meeting with Mark who matched our enthusiasm for the project and kindly agreed to get involved – time to get things organised.
Or so we thought, however Covid put everything on hold as we all went into lockdown and waited to see what would happen.As it became clear that Covid was not going away and would have a huge, long-term impact on everyone’s lives – including how schools were functioning. We had to accept there was no way we were going to be able to keep to our original idea of going into schools to deliver the workshops.
In January 2021 (yes, a whole year later!) we regrouped, revisited our plans and explored other ways we could achieve our aim of supporting our local schools with delivering sculpture in their curriculum. This is when we came up with the idea of using film. Whilst it loses the impact of face-to-face it does bring other advantages: we can reach more young people and their teachers; teachers have more flexibility of when to use a film; teachers can decide how to use a film – chunking it into appropriate sections, rewinding, revisiting; support staff can share the film with small groups or individual children enabling everyone to access the information at an appropriate level. Now the question was how! No one on the committee had filming experience, let alone producing this type of film so we needed some expert support.
After exploring some options we chose to go with a local company called Blue Frontier as they had the experience, skills and enthusiasm we were looking for. Working with them, we put together a plan and budget – nearly £2000! Whilst we had money in our Young Arts budget we would still to source funding from elsewhere. We wrote an application to the Patricia Fay Foundation and, in May 2021, were thrilled to receive nearly £1400 towards the costs. We held a meeting with Mark and Blue Frontier to finalise a schedule and establish exactly what we wanted to achieve. At this meeting Mark shared another film he had been involved, Ice Bear, which focussed on polar bears and the impact of climate change on them and their environment. The power of Ice Bear was incredible and we knew that, if we could get permission, using excerpts would add hugely to the content of our film. I contacted the producer, Mary Hare and the director, Oliver Parker to explain what we were trying to achieve and ask if we could have permission to use excerpts. They were both fantastic and incredibly supportive of our project and agreed to the inclusion of the excerpts we had selected. The final hurdle before we could start filming was how to include a group of children in the film in a safe way that they and their parents were confident with. We contacted a local primary school, Wardour Catholic Primary School, and were able to tick all the boxes to include a group of three KS2 children. We were ready to begin – filming was set for 6th July 2021!
By the end of the 2021 our film was finished. To support its use in schools we divided the film into three separate parts: Introduction to Mark and Wildlife Sculpture; Mark Sculpting a Polar Bear; and Children’s Sculpture Workshop – learning how to create sculpture without and with armatures. We were now ready to share but we also wanted to support our local schools even further. We created a resource box with documents introducing the film and resources, “Mark’s Top Tips”, and “How to create an armature”. These were all included on a USB stick with a copy of the complete film on it. Finally, we included enough Plastilin modelling material for a class to create their own polar bears. Having shared the film with our local primary schools we would now like to share the resource wider. You will find links to all three parts and the supporting documents below. The possibilities of how you use the film are huge as it links with so many different topics. If you do use the film we would really love to see pictures of the children’s work. We have started to create a gallery of children’s sculptures which it would be great to add your sculptures to! As Project Leader, this was an exciting challenge as well as an incredible opportunity for me to combine my passions for the arts and learning