Art Day at St. Mary Magdalen R.C.V.A Primary

Last Wednesday students of St. Mary Magdalen R.C.V.A Primary, Seaham produced some astonishing drawings during this year's Art Day workshops. Over the last three years the school has invited me to deliver an annual workshop for their Art Day.  The theme this year was inspired by my new project I LOVE THIS CITY / COLLECTION. Delighted to return to this exceptional school, students and staff gathered for a presentation about the project during morning assembly.  The football related symbolism within the Biro drawings for SUNDERLAND and NEWCASTLE t-shirt designs, sparked a lively debate between fans of both clubs, as to whether England was going to win the World Cup! 

(Above: Tommy Biro drawing by 8 year old Student)

SUNDERLAND 2018 red Bic Biro drawing Jane Lee McCracken I LOVE THIS CITY / COLLECTION 

The aim of the workshop was for each student to create a t-shirt design, celebrating their hometown of Seaham. Drawings were to be made with the same Biro pens I use for my full-colour drawings. The design had to incorporate two elements, which included recognisable Seaham landmarks as well as local wildlife. The second element also forms a link with the environmental aspect of I LOVE THIS CITY project, which highlights the importance of indigenous wildlife in maintaining our eco-systems. 

Seaham Images selected by Mrs C. Wilkinson

PPA Teacher and Creative Lead, Mrs C Wilkinson kindly collected and printed images of iconic landmarks and birdlife for students to use as inspiration. Landmarks included Tommy, statue of a First World War soldier by Ray Lonsdale, Jewels of the Sea sculpture by Andrew McKeown and Wind and Fire sculpture by Craig Knowles.  Birdlife of Seaham included images of guillemots, kittiwakes, herring gulls and kestrels. Vane Tempest Colliery sculpture and Kittiwake colour Biro drawing by Year 6 student

Working with around eight classes over the course of the day, discussing each student's design individually, while helping with drawing tips, produced a hub of creative activity and individual expression galore. No pencils are allowed in my workshops, only Biros!  This helps focus the mind as Biro can't be erased and also allows students to practice skills of concentration and patience.


The Coxswain Biro drawing by Year 6 student

The ethos of all my workshops is to give students an opportunity to express themselves through one of humanity's oldest forms of visual art and expression - drawing.  One of the students asked a brilliant question during the workshop intro  "How do feel when you draw?". The answer is also a key objective of the workshops, "Drawing transports me to another world".  Drawing is one of the ultimate forms of therapy for our busy minds!

Colour Biro drawing by Year 5 student incorporating landmarks Seaham Lighthouse, Tommy, Jewels of the Sea, Vane Tempest Colliery sculpture within the image of a grey seal

Other key aims are to encourage the recognition that each person has an individual style, which is unique to them and that everyone's style is valid.  Also, making mistakes is part of the process and these can be rectified by weaving them into the drawing or rediscovered as happy accidents.  Ultimately at the heart of each workshop is encouraging self-belief and confidence, as well as relaying the fact that everyone can draw. 

Wind & Fire and a Guillemot by Year 6 student

For me, the standout designs of the workshop are the black Biro line drawing of Tommy (top image), a remarkable and iconic piece of work by an eight year old boy.  His use of continuous lines (no mean feat), which automatically flowed from his pen, demonstrates an incredible natural ability. Also the bold and triumphant Wind & Fire and Guillemot (above) by a Year 6 girl, who with great self-expression created a sense of movement and flight throughout her design. Her avian interpretation of the Wind and Fire sculpture, was also echoed by the inclusion of a guillemot in flight. This student initially struggled to draw the guillemot, but with practice and belief, her achievement is outstanding. 

Jewels of the Sea, Tommy and a herring gull Biro drawing by Year 6 student

St Mary Magdalen R.C.V.A Primary school are hoping to release one of their students drawings as a t-shirt design to celebrate the town of Seaham. Read more about the Art Day workshop in a post on the school's blog.

With great thanks to Headteacher Mr L J Duncan, Mrs Wilkinson and the staff and students for working so hard, creating such inspirational art and providing yet another amazing experience working at your incredible school. 

Wind and Fire Sculpture, Sea Glass and a Herring Gull colour Biro drawing by Year 4 student


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