Beyond the Surface was part of a series of community-based projects organised by Drumcroon Gallery and Visual Arts Service, which involved five Wigan primary schools. A KS1 and KS2 class from each school visited a sculpture exhibition titled 'The Melting Pot'. The gallery experience was then developed in each school by the artist-educator Brian Taylor, who sculpts with reclaimed natural materials.
The aim of the project was to encourage children to move beyond immediate impressions and make more considered explorations of their feelings about themselves and others through the creation of a collaborative sculptural installation. The exhibition of sculpture by the artist Charles Hadcock provided the initial stimulus, with children responding to his fascination for structures in nature and mathematics that inspire his engineered forms. They discovered that Charles' sculptures relate directly to the measurements of his own body, and this insight, combined with the idea of constructing collaborative sculptures inspired the work.
Returning to schools, each class was asked to consider the surface qualities of materials. Children compared the shiny, reflective surfaces of reclaimed tin to mirrors and reflections and contrasted this to the skin-like surface quality of wood. The materials and discussions raised the question - how do we discover more about each other and ourselves? Working in groups each surface on a block of wood related to one child, each block represented a conversation between four children.
By scratching the surface of the tin and drilling into the wood, children worked metaphorically to communicate the idea that deeper conversations are needed in order to know more about themselves and others. Children recorded their feelings or interests, on paper and rolled these into the drilled cavities of the wood. The installation, constructed of identical blocks, promotes feelings of harmony and cohesion, whilst individual surfaces are more personal, providing glimpses of the individual. The work is an exploration of inner feelings and values - the process of creating the work is a metaphor for deeper understanding between people.
The case study and PowerPoint outline projects undertaken in Drumcroon Gallery and schools, which explore issues around identity, locality and community cohesion.