What happens when you let a group of Year 10 art students loose on a large-scale sculpture? Can destruction be a creative act in the school context? And who's going to tidy up afterwards?
We set out to find out the answers to all of these questions and more with an exciting experiment, Destroy, working with artist Poppy Green and Year 10 GCSE Art students from Bow School. Poppy invited the students to systematically destroy and then recreate a piece of her sculptural work, The Big Yellow Thing, which she made at a disused upholstery workshop in 2013.
Destroy forms part of #10Experiments, a series of interventions and activity designed to develop and expand the Bow Arts education programme. It provides the time and space to try out new approaches across our projects, and to reflect on what we do.
The students initially took part in a half day session at Bow School, to meet Poppy and learn about her practice. They then took part in a day-long workshop at the Bow Arts Project Space Wapping in the Rum Factory, where the group were inspired by a walk around the building’s 90 studios. The students were then given free rein to take apart the sculpture, before using the dismantled elements to create new artworks individually and in groups.
See the below stopmotion video of the students dismantling the sculpture:
As an artist educator I am always looking for ways for students to engage with my practice. With Destroy I thought it would be interesting to not only offer that experience very directly, but also to challenge them to create something new and better, to empower them to challenge what has gone before and to have confidence is their own abilities as artists. We were nervous going into the session, we had met the young people before briefly and we were confident in their skills, but we had no real way of knowing how they would react to destroying the sculpture. In the end the manner of the destruction was just the right balance of anarchy and revelry of destruction, with thought and respect
Poppy Green, Artist
Following the workshop, the students filled out a questionnaire to record how they felt about taking part in the project. The whole process was documented and will be made into a short film by Poppy.
Destroy has been an exciting and unusual project for the students and so different to the approaches they are used to in school. Away from the restrictions of the classroom students were given the freedom and space to create their own three dimensional artwork. They lost all inhibitions as they explored and manipulated the materials taken apart from Poppy's sculpture to construct their own extraordinary artwork. I am hoping the experience will enable them to take creative risks and be more imaginative with their own art work.
Sarah McEvoy, Head of Art and Design Technology, Bow School
We found the project really exciting and thought-provoking and look forward to exploring further what can be achieved within an arts education setting through #10Experiments.