A mural displayed in the reception area at King Edward VI College was created by fourteen art foundation students. These students give their own account of the experience and have provided all the photography.
Our initial focus for the mural was to represent aspects of the original architecture found around the college. During the process of developing the piece our ideas evolved and it became increasingly important for us to compose the painting as a dichotomy. The college buildings have remained virtually untouched for hundreds of years, yet with the addition of contemporary architecture and the ever changing groups of students that pass through its doors.
The focus soon became more about representing these contrasts, youthful energy and movement between the past and the future. We drew on our own experiences of education at King Edward VI and found that the collection of buildings that form the college bring much inspiration to us in our creative and academic studies. The range of forms and structure found within the college and the surrounding landscapes are represented through the expressive brush marks, textures and materials present in the mural.
Harriet Treadgold a student from Nuneaton said ‘Working on the mural was a great opportunity to build our communication skills and strengthened our ability to work as a team. As someone who was new to King Edward VI College, I found it to be a good chance to learn about the college and the other people in the foundation group, which made me connect more with the people and the project. Everyone in the group was able to put forward ideas and express concerns, which gave us a great chance to learn about collaborating with others and creating compromises.
The colour palette, interlocking shapes and forms across the composition were inspired by Picasso’s “Guernica”. We felt that a relatively neutral colour palette would reflect the masonry of the building and also the architectural and natural environment around the college.
Jessica Bewell from Hinckley said ‘The experience of foundation art and the group project has helped me grow in my art and personally.’
One of the challenges we faced was how to incorporate the old into the new and the natural into the man-made. Taking inspiration from the painter Anselm Kiefer, we decided to bring the old building and the environment into the mural by sourcing natural forms and materials from the college’s surroundings and including them on the surface of the painting. Looking closely the viewer will find roof tiles, rope, twigs and other natural forms.
Student Megan Farmer said ‘With being unsure as to what I wanted to do after A Levels the art foundation year has been a positive and exciting yeat where I have really discovered myself and been given the opportunity to learn lots of interesting new stuff. Definitely an educational opportunity I will not look back and regret’
A motif running through the mural is the inclusion of text; these are quotes from local creatives; Ken Loach and George Elliot. We hope that the mural will reflect not only our experiences and memories of King Edward VI Sixth Form College but also serve as inspiration for students in the future.
David Bird, teacher of art, said “Students on this years Art Foundation Degree wanted to leave their mark on the college and came up with the idea of creating a mural for the foyer of the new college building which had previously been an expanse of exposed brick. Their idea to bring historical aspects of the college into the new build as well as make a statement about the vigour and excitement of the Art provision at the college in the place where people enter and leave was an admirable intention and in my opinion they achieved that brilliantly.”
David continued “The process of creating such a large piece over many weeks occasionally highlighted conflicts of ideas and differences of creative opinion but ultimately they worked as a cohesive team, what better way to prepare them for their lives at university? The painting stands as a testament to their maturity and talent. We’re already considering other environments around the college for next years Foundation. “