Thursday, 28 July 2011

Flag workshops at Dundonald School

The Dundonald entry form
Monday 18th July: The week before the Watford game and the display of school flags at Kingsmeadow and I am lucky enough to be invited by Dundonald school to help with some painting. Dundonald has a single class per year and Ms Nugent, the art teacher, has sent out pictures of blank flags as part of a competition to help design the two entries for the school - one from Keystage 1 (Reception and Years 1 & 2) and the other from the older children of Keystage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 & 6). The result is an influx of entries from all around the school from the very youngest to those about to leave. Bringing them all together and having them all participate in the painting to create two completed flags in two days would certainly be a challenge!

Arriving at ten on a Monday with my trailer full of paint, brushes and other paraphernalia, I'm directed to the top floor of the canteen where things are already well underway. Some of the Year 6 children responsible for the winning design have been sketching out their flag with pencils and have pretty much finished both the lettering and the figures. It's very good and the artist is obviously very influenced by the  Japanese Manga and Anime style of art. In fact it's so good that Ms Nugent is a bit worried that everyone will think that she did it, not the children!

After the sketching the first paint goes on
The floor has already been cleared and covered with backing plastic before the flag is taped down into position. Ms Nugent has set up a rota for all those Keystage 2 children that entered the competition so that even if their design wasn't chosen, they still had the opportunity to join in.There was also a number of Teaching Assistants on hand through the day and they all got stuck in as well.

The first group of children are all Year 6 and they get to work on the two areas of real detail, the Dundonald and AFC Wimbledon badges. Very tricky stuff but they get most of the detail completed before they have to get back to class and the next group join us.

Delicate work here
The gaps between groups are sometimes short, sometimes cover a break and sometimes non-existent but they often provide a chance to clean brushes (there are never enough clean brushes) and try to dry off some of the newly painted areas. We are using school issue poster paint which seems to take forever to dry compared to the emulsion paint I usually use, so it was a good job I had 'borrowed' a second hairdryer from home!

Tricky bird, the two-headed eagle
Subsequent groups came in and did their bit. They were all very enthusiastic and some knew quite a bit about AFC Wimbledon and wombles, one even claiming to have seen a womble without his head, which I found a slightly disturbing thought, but something he said was definitely the case. Not a sight I'd like to see though...

Coming together nicely
As the day progressed more and more of the design appeared with some changes and amendments taking place as we went along. Some missing white leg fur on the womble was hastily added and we tried to adjust the lettering when we realised that the stylish Anime lettering was fine close up but not at all easy to read when slightly further away. As a result we tried to increase the amount of white areas to define it more. Again, not an easy task when trying to put white on top of non-drying poster paint. As we kept saying though (and it was a point well taken by the children) one of the things about flags is the scale of the work. People see flags from a distance so minor splashes, splodges and ignoring of lines really aren't that important.  Amazingly we had pretty much finished the Keystage 2 flag by the end of the day and we hurriedly packed up in time for the after school club to take control of their canteen again. The flag and all the equipment was moved outside - in the light rain - and down the fire escape and back indoors to be left alone to dry. Tomorrow was the turn of the younger children to have their turn!

Flag, paint, pots and brushes - all set!
Tuesday 19th July: Legs kicking footballs is a theme that often comes up when children design flags. What we particularly liked about this design though was the wonderful knobbly knees the player had! Also it was clear and bold and would present just the right amount of challenge to the younger Reception age group.

 We did change the colour of the strip though as red and white vertical stripes might have confused the supporters. The position of the lettering was slightly different to the original design, but again that's all part of the process!

There was quite a difference in painting styles between the youngest and the oldest in Keystage 1, so I had earmarked the grass as being an ideal area for Reception to start off with. If the grass turned out to be a bit long and straggly we could always blame the groundsman. Block areas of blue and yellow would also suit the younger ones and the Year 2 children could have a go at the lettering which is pretty much how it all went. Again, as with the previous day, very enthusiastic groups of youngsters came by throughout the day and this time there was no worries about finishing in time.

Magnificent drying-machine!

Some excellent sock work being applied to the strip
Friday 22nd July: I arrive for the Dundonald Presentation Assembly just as it begins, which is lucky as we are one of the earlier presentations to be made. Most of the children saw their own flag in various stages of production, but hardly any saw the final product, including those that actually designed and drew out the initial design for everyone else to paint! How would they feel? Would they be happy with the final result or would they demand it be done true to their artistic vision (artists are a special breed and can be a little temperamental apparently). Luckily everyone seemed very pleased with the final result and I was able to show an example of the certificates their teachers had for each of the participants. 

Then I was most unexpectedly presented with a token of appreciation from the school which caught me a little by surprise and for which I was (and am) very grateful. Many thanks to the staff and pupils at Dundonald for that and you may be interested to learn that it was much appreciated the evening after your flag was flown for the Watford game!

These are the entries arranged by keystage and year

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