Last Thursday I was invited by the splendid Mrs Peacock, teacher and art champion at Jarrow Cross CE Primary school, to deliver a rivers themed workshop, related to my new project I LOVE THIS CITY | COLLECTION. With this in mind I decided to ask Year 5 students to create their own t-shirt designs celebrating the River Tyne at Jarrow. During the workshop each class got a sneak preview of Newcastle and Sunderland t-shirts and posters from the collection to give them ideas for their designs. We also discussed why the River Tyne is important to Jarrow, both economically and environmentally. The mouth of the River Tyne is a thriving habitat for species such as salmon, Kittiwakes, grey seals and occasionally dolphin.
Rescuing a Kittiwake, 2017
Although familiar with Jarrow, I made a visit prior to the workshop, to record the town's marvellous landmarks for the children to study. Jarrow is awash with history that is not only significant to North East England and the UK but also of global importance. The magnificent St. Paul's Monastery was "one of Europe's most influential centres of learning and culture in the 7th century". Now a site of tranquility which overlooks the natural beauty of the River Don, it was also home to Bede, the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar and author of the Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
St Paul's Church and Monastery
The town is also famous for the Jarrow Crusade. The closing of Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company in 1934, caused mass unemployment in Jarrow and led to a group of 200 men making an epic march from Jarrow to London in 1936, to protest against unemployment and poverty. The Jarrow Crusade acted as a catalyst to post-war social reform. Although over 1000 ships were built at Jarrow's shipyard, it is also famous for breaking up the Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, in 1935.
Participants in the Jarrow Crusade. Photo credit: Wikipedia
Post-visit I created an inspiration sheet, which was given to each student during the workshops. The design was to be drawn in colour Biro and contain the following elements: a reference to the River Tyne, a Jarrow landmark and an animal related to the town. Animal representations within the artwork for my new project symbolise that humanity is entwined with the animal kingdom and that no matter where we live in the world, wildlife is important to our ecosystems.
Despite pencils being banished from the workshop, the children were so excited to create a design for their town, that they wielded their Biros fearlessly! It was a joy to experience the diligence undertaken to make their drawings and the artwork created by each student is truly inspirational. Here are some of the t-shirt designs for Jarrow:
I would like to thank each student for their hard work, as well as that of their class teachers. I would also like to thank Mrs Peacock and Headteacher Mrs McBeth for inviting me to deliver another workshop at their amazing school.