Exploration has been a hallmark of Art in Term 2, practically and metaphorically!

Designing, preparing, and painting the ‘flats’ for the set of the Lion King production has involved all the Art Club student’s time, expertise and effort for the last 10 weeks.

Starting with exploring various ‘jungles’ in Africa - learning about the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ and other rainforests - each student made six drawings focussing on shape, scale and variety of vegetation. Transposing those drawings to the size necessary for the set required identifying the most suitable features and scaling up the individual parts into stencils. They were then arranged to encourage the viewer to experience the claustrophobic shallow depth of the deep jungle. Mixing various greens to mimic layers of vegetation and application to suitable shapes required the students to cooperate in order to select the foreground, middle-ground and background of each panel before painting.

The National Park ‘Hells Gate’ in Kenya was one of the locations of inspiration for the gorge and savannah scenes in the Lion King. Repeating the process for the jungle panels, the students explored typical savannah landscapes including Acacia trees - whose shape is so iconic of Africa; flat on top and thorny, resisting grazing Giraffes! Contrasting the claustrophobia of the jungles, the savannah is open and expansive, creating the opposite dilemma in representation. The scale of shape and depth of field were critical features that needed to be identified, explored and communicated. Reminiscent of the Australian landscape, depicting the sparseness of the African savannah requires a reacquaintance with the art truism, ‘less is often more’.

As the creation of the ‘flats’ progressed, it was very rewarding to see the students move from tentative exploration, hesitant painting, and questions seeking reassurance to confident decision making, bold confident painting and conversations between themselves to solve problems, seeking help only when necessary. Given the tools, they became self-directed and took personal responsibility, attributes reflecting growth, and essential for creative practice.

Mr Wain and Ms Wilcox