Graffiti in the West Wing*!
While most of the world was on holiday and welcoming 2013 I was doing one of the most exciting jobs I’ve ever been asked to do. And I mean EVER… in The West Wing! No, I don’t mean the West Wing at the White House, where you’ll find the US President (which would have been crazy awesome), but the *West Wing at The Howard of Effingham School, where… um… you’ll find the Art and English Departments (which is just as crazy awesome, as far as I’m concerned)!
It all began back in the summer with a casual comment from Ros, a super-smart and enthusiastic English teacher. ‘Perhaps you help us, Cathy. We want to make reading cool,’ she said. I frowned because, obviously, I already think reading is cool. ‘At our school,’ she went on, ‘Sport and Science seem to get all the attention. (boo!) So we wondered if you’d paint a mural for us.’ ‘A mural… of what?’ I asked, my brain filling with pictures of fluffy clouds and floating people like on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. ‘Well, sort of graffiti,’ said Ros. ‘In our English corridor.’ The clouds and floating people evaporated and were replaced by huge splashes of neon paint and my blue-haired characters sprawled along the corridor, so I said, ‘Woah, yeah, try and stop me!’
I started doodling things that I thought would ‘make reading cool’ (Jane Austen texting, Hamlet being moody and jokes about Iambic Pentameter) and by the autumn term had a sketchbook full of ideas. The teachers (most importantly the Head Teacher) approved my sketches so… the walls were prepared… I bought the paint…
…transferred my sketches and made them life-size (all 25 of them!)…
And on the 10th January the mural was unveiled!
So what did the teachers and pupils think?
Well, they said all sorts of positive and sophisticated stuff about ‘enhancing the learning environment’ and ‘encouraging creativity’ when interviewed buy a local journalist. But, after the ribbon was cut, the speeches were made and cake eaten, I chatted with pupils (pictured above) to discover the truth – they LOVE the characters, think they’re ‘really cool and funny’ and have enjoyed guessing the names of all the books. Result!
Have you ever been involved in a scheme to make reading cool or painted a mural in your school?