School comes together to produce a beautiful shoal

Katherine Renton
Katherine Renton

Pupils at Hipsburn First School have been working with the winner of last year’s poster competition ahead of the Alnmouth Arts Festival.

Katherine Renton, also an art teacher at St Paul’s Middle School in Alnwick, was behind the project in which every pupil in the school is helping to produce a 3D artwork entitled A Beautiful Shoal of Fish in Alnmouth Estuary, which will be exhibited at the Festival on June 21 and 22.

The project involves pupils creating individual clay fish that will all be beautifully decorated. The fish will be displayed together as one giant sculpture representing a shoal of fish swimming through the estuary.

Katherine got the idea for this project following a visit to the Elephant Parade, the world’s largest openair art exhibition featuring individually-decorated elephant sculptures, which toured to Newcastle in 2013.

“When I explained the concept to the children, they were immediately very enthusiastic about the whole idea, resulting in some fantastic and very original artwork,” she said.

“The Alnmouth Arts Festival provided a generous budget to fund art projects in local schools. I used the funding to buy art equipment and materials for the whole school, much of which can be used in future art projects.

“I led the project with a group of children and was joined in one session by all the teaching staff in the school. I used the session to train the staff in the use of clay, and along with the children they produced their own beautiful clay fish.”

Katherine also created a series of lesson plans that take pupils and teachers through the various skills required.

Every child in the school is now taking part in the project, with the help of the teachers, the plans and the ‘expert’ pupils that initially worked with Katherine.

She added: “The intention is that every child and every teacher at Hipsburn First School will produce a unique clay fish that will feature in the Festival.

“Every fish will be different; in size, shape and colour, with a range of fluorescent, metallic and glitter paints.

“I have already had some great feedback from the parents and children and I can’t wait to see the school’s finished sculpture at the Festival.”