Our Place in the Universe
Vittoria Primary School,
4 March 2019, KS2, Year 5

(please click on photos to see more)

The children were able to produce a variety of work, ranging from creating information booklets to some really fantastic artwork.’ (Zamiya Shire, Yr 5 teacher, Vittoria PS)

The children at Vittoria Primary School were very lively and very knowledgeable. They asked and answered lots of questions and produced some beautiful artwork about the Sun and space. This SunSpaceArt workshop was run by Helen Mason, solar scientist, Clare Dudeney and Christabel Forbes, artists.

Helen talked with the students about the Sun, solar system & universe (including recent solar satellites heading for the Sun). We were amazed at how much they already knew, thanks to their science lead teacher, Joanna Moore. They’d been researching the Sun and Moon for homework, finding out lots of facts and making little books. After hearing what they had learned, Helen explained how stars are born and die, and that like humans they range in age – the Sun is a middle-aged star.

She also introduced some UK astronauts: Helen Sharman who worked at Mars, making ice cream, before travelling to a Russian space station, Mir, and Tim Peak who was the first official British astronaut to travel with the European Space Agency (ESA) to the International Space Station (ISS).

The students also learned about the spectrum of light beyond the visible – including looking at UV beads and an Infrared camera. It was fascinating to see how a hand glows with warmth on the floor and then when it moves, a handprint of heat is left behind. The students also explored rainbow colours by making patterns on circles of blotting paper, with droplets of water to make the colours merge.

Helen, with artists Clare Dudeney and Christabel Forbes then helped students to make fold out books of drawings, diagrams, information, songs and poetry inspired by the science discussion. In particular, they focused on the new things that they’d learnt.

After lunch, Clare and Christabel introduced their artwork, talking about how they use colour, shapes and marks to make works about people and places. Their works are sometimes abstract – which means they don’t represent something directly, but express a sense or feeling. They introduced four different materials / approaches to making: watercolour, soft pastel, oil pastel and collage – with artwork examples from Turner, Degas, Van Gogh and Matisse.

They also explained how to mix colours, using the primary colours (red, blue, yellow) to make secondary colours (green, purple, orange). Explaining the concept of complementary colours – which is where two colours vibrate off each other such as: red and green; blue and orange; yellow and purple – where each pair ‘completes’ the three primaries.

The students experimented with different media – using watercolour, oil pastel and soft pastel on sample paper – working abstractly to explore colour and pattern. Then they each made a bigger piece of work, related to the Sun or space, using their imagination, drawing from their books and collaging some of the sample pieces in.

To finish the students exhibited all their work for the day on their desks and quietly walked around looking at each other’s artworks, sharing their thoughts about someone else’s work and/or their own. Some of the children initially lacked confidence in their artistic abilities but were thrilled by their artwork.

What did the Sun and space make them think of? ‘It makes me think of discovery and most of all of life’, ‘it makes me feel lots of emotions’, ‘it makes me think about the solar system, stars and galaxies’. What did the children like best about the day’s activities? ‘The creativity’, ‘making the booklet’, ‘getting to make a collage’, ‘testing out the paint colours’, ‘making the pattern then putting the water on top’, ‘painting and using all types of materials’, ‘the art because the art is when you express your feelings’.

Thanks again to you all for yesterday’s workshop. I could see how inspired and engaged Year 5 were, which resulted in some lovely pieces of artwork and fact books. I’m planning for the class to share their work with other pupils in tomorrow’s whole school assembly and we’re also planning to create a display.’ (Demetrios Constantinides, art teacher, Vittoria PS).