Last week I took my kids to an outdoor ‘Land Art’ session at Belfairs woods. To be honest I thought it was just going to be collecting leaves and sticking them on a piece of paper, that sort of thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of time for these sorts of activities – really I was just looking for a nice day out in the woods and an excuse to do something a bit creative but wasn’t expecting much.
It turned out to be much more in-depth than this and really quite interesting. Gemma, who ran the session and is the founder of Leigh Independent Art School, talked about artists who were involved in the Land Art movement such as Robert Smithson and Andy Goldsworthy and how these artists create works from natural materials that become part of the environment they are created from. She talked to the children about some of the art they had created and encouraged them to think along the same lines.
First of all the children were encouraged to make lines in the grass by repeatedly walking over the same paths, some made swirls, some made straight lines, some (like my son and his friends) argued about what to make and ended up doing very little (they did eventually make a fish that they were very proud of!). After that the kids were all very keen to get collecting things to use in their next work. They were asked to collect lots of the same item and think about where they could put them that would be harmonious, to go with their instincts but also think about echoing the patterns made by nature.
It was an interesting session, albeit somewhat ambitious at times; certainly different to the leaf collage I was expecting, and very much enjoyed by my children, especially my daughter who set to work making some really quite beautiful creations with her friend, as well as getting involved in a larger group work. My son found it harder to get into because there was no right or wrong way of doing things but even he warmed to the idea with time!
It’s certainly something to think about when wandering through the woods, whether you see it as making something meaningful, as communing with nature or just as doing something pretty, it did seem to make my children look on what they found in the woods quite differently.
For more information about Leigh Independent Art School visit http://leighindependentart.wix.com/lias