Campfire, Shelter, and Bundles

April 10, 2011

LANDMARKS: NATURE, ART, SCHOOLS

Week 9 – 21 New Participants,   17  Repeat Participants

Total Landmark Participants: 166

Location: Ardee Library

Participant Feedback:

“The children really enjoyed visiting each art station and working with the different art materials. It was lovely to see the children so engrossed with their work. They seemed really excited at having the opportunity to use materials for art that they might not get to use at school.  They particularly loved the ink stampers and drawing work, using beautiful photos as inspiration. Excellently explained and a fun experience” Monastery National School Ardee, Teacher (2nd Class)

“The important part of the project was the link with the classroom, bringing the artworks back into the classroom offered continuity. It meant that we could create our own environment. The project was structured, but free, focussed and yet we could make it our own” Ardee Educate Together National School, Teacher (5/6th Class)

The featured artist this week was Chris Drury, known for his stone and branch shelters, cairns with fire, and collections of natural materials, which he calls bundles.

In his book, Silent Spaces, Drury describes the protectiveness offered by his huts or shelters made within remote wild areas around the world.

Within a classroom a small shelter can be a place to ‘be apart’, to go inside one’s self for a moment, before re-entering classroom activity.

“I like the way that  a shelter has an interior as well as an exterior. They feel different but are connected. I like the way this interior space draws you inside yourself, enclosing, protecting, just as mountains pull you outside yourself, pushing mind and body beyond their usual confines” (Chris Drury, Silent Spaces, p. 20). A shelter has a presence, both in nature, and also indoors. The fact that it can be entered into, embraces or surrounds a child unto themselves. Within the Ardee Library, a willow shelter resides within the corner of the art room. A quiet ending to a period of creative work can be achieved by asking each child to enter the shelter for a few moments to be by themselves. The rest of the class ‘holds’ the silence for their classmate, as they enter the shelter.

Drury also collects simple natural objects to create bundles, which become symbolic, representing a particular place, season, and habitat. A bundle, writes Drury, is like a souvenir, “they are talismans of time and place, made simply at a campsite, or alternatively made at a later date as an act of remembering. A stick is a forest, a stone is a mountain”  (Chris Drury, Silent Spaces, p. 58). Children can easily make their own bundles from sticks, moss, pinecones and sheep’s wool.

Students can also re-create the ‘fire’ of Drury’s artworks by using clay, sticks and candles. Each Landmark’s session begins and ends around a candle campfire situated in the middle of the art room. The campfire is a gathering place, a resting place within a landscape, and a stopover within a long journey. Drury creates fires within stone cairns in remote mountain areas, along cliffs, or by falling water. They mark “moments of exhilaration” along long walks, or the contrasts between stone, water, time, light, and sky. The campfire is also evoked in the art sessions through the use of charcoal, literally burnt wood taken from old campfires situated in local forest parks. The children work with the black wood in their paper books.

The photos featured are artworks from students of Monastery National School, Ardee Educate Together and Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire.

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