Freethorpe Community Primary School

Children from Freethorpe Primary School worked with two artists, over three days, beginning with a whole school project to make 'memory boxes'. The first day involved finding out about Papua New Guinean artefacts, different environments, and cultural traditions. This led to discussions about our own countryside traditions, and an afternoon of, first, foraging in the school's nature areas for various natural materials, and then using the materials gathered to make highly personal and imaginative 'symbolic mobiles'. Some weeks later, the project had evolved in a new direction, to look at local folk tales and vernacular building materials. Building on these ideas, the final visit was a two day workshop, re-visiting Papua New Guinea, but this time looking at the famous Highland Mudmen performances. Inspired by the Mudmen, pupils made body extensions and costumes, that reflected their own culture, local traditions and personal symbolism. The main activity, however, was the outdoor group manufacture of the building material cob, composed of clay, straw, and sand, which needed to be trodden in a kind of dance. The resultant material was used to make large cob heads, which evolved fantastic features and became reminiscent of the rustic creatures found in stories and local legend.
The general theme at Freethorpe was memory in connection with local landscapes, vernacular building styles, and the handing down of stories through myth. Inspired by the school's Greek-style amphitheatre, it was also about enlivening cultural traditions through art-making, inventing stories, and making costumed performances.