Commissioned permanent installation
Participatory public art
Artist in Residence
In spring of 2017 I am commissioned as Artist in Residence at the Nord Anglia International School Hong Kong for 6 weeks. Together with all 803 current students from Year 1 to Year 9 we created a mural installation for the school’s newly renovated courtyard. All age groups from five to 15 years old were hands-on involved to contribute to the artwork, designing an individual shape and build the large-scale installation – a truly participatory community project. The art project offers the school’s community unforgettable experiences from its production to its perception. The pupils worked along side with a real artist, got to make art that is beyond what the normal curriculum teaches and they learned many hands-on new skills.
Wall of All is the title as well as the artwork’s concept. The idea is that the wall based installation functions as an oversized storybook depicting over 800 individual visual stories of all the students, representing their current identities. Each student contributes a silhouette shape cut from acrylic glass in a colour shade of their house. The acrylic shapes are almost luminous, sunlight doubles the shapes into colourful shadow projections onto the wall. Like an experiential snapshot it showcases the school’s spirit by the students’ passions, aspirations and favourite activities cast in colourful shapes at this moment in time. It will keep safe a visual memory for the students growing up as well as for new students to come.
I have been working with all students during their art lessons with the help of the school’s art team. During the first session, students created each a silhouette design inspired by their favourite specialist activity from art, music, drama or sports. We focused on the visuals of shape and pattern to create silhouette images that represent their individual character, that tells a little story about them. Most of the students, especially the younger students in the primary years, made cutouts in black paper. Some secondary students tried an iPad drawing app to create digital silhouettes. After the paper cutouts were made, we took photographs and I digitalised the silhouette shapes, turning the paper cutouts into vector paths for laser-cut production. The digitalisation process involved cleaning up the paths, scaling the shapes to size, adding mounting holes and assigning house colour shades. Then the pieces were sent off to a specialist company for production in acrylic glass.
After the acrylic shapes came back to school, the second session enabled the pupils to experiment with the panels’ composition. The artwork had to be done in a method, that allowed to work in the classrooms for the mounting of the shapes. Designing a metal structure with panels to be bracketed onto the façade was the best way to accommodate the project and the children. Each class (36 classes in total) worked on one panel in their class. The pupils learned about layout, balance and layering to create an aesthetically pleasing outcome that built up one part of the final mural installation. Working on a three-dimensional installation was a new experience. They learned new practical skills as for most students mounting the acrylic shapes with screws, washers, distance holders, nuts and bolts using spanners was a first time. With great enthusiasm we all worked together to complete the artwork. Later the panels were installed by contractors onto the wall.
Finally, all panels were installed in the school’s courtyard over three stories. The artwork is there for now and for the future, telling 800 little stories.
Nord Anglia International School, Lam Tin (HK)
In collaboration with the PTA of Nord Anglia International School HK