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Making our mark as a community: Huili Art Week

27 Jun 2019

We’ve already enjoyed several subject-themed weeks during Huili’s opening academic year, with each one designed to allow pupils to explore the highlighted subject in new, exciting and interesting ways. Art Week, which ran from 17-21 June, was no exception, as art and design teacher Mr Abood explains: What was the theme forHuili's first Art Week? Mr Abood: We decided on the theme of ‘Start the takeover’ for the school’s first Art Week, because we wanted something that would be vibrant and memorable. The week was all about pupils unleashing their creativity onto the very walls of the school itself in order to further beautify it for the coming academic year.

What sort of activities and events did our pupils enjoy over the course of the week? We really let the pupils get stuck into the different projects we had prepared for them; we wanted them to really make them their own. Grades 1-2 quickly set about transforming a section of the level 5 walkway across from the art rooms into ‘Junk Lane’, a recycling hub where pupils can recycle practically any materials so that they can be made into artworks at a later date.

Look out for the wonderfully varied row of lane houses, each one made from a different recyclable material.

Meanwhile grades 3-6 worked on two separate murals. The first was located on level 5 and it explores the artistic concept of how the face is used as a canvas. This mural was overseen by one of our fantastically talented guest artists, Ms Kathryn Robbins.

The second mural you can now find on Level 3, and it’s not hard to spot since it surrounds the music rooms! This one is about the link between sound and movement and it was run by guest artist Mr Oliver Hero Dressen.

Given that this was the first Art Week for Huili,what kind of atmosphere were you trying to achieve? What would you say are the most important things youwanted the Huili pupils to take away from this week? All the projects the pupils took on were collaborative in nature, so the focus was definitely on teamwork, on creating a sense of community and belonging through the act of making art together. I wanted the pupils to understand what they can achieve as a cohesive unit and to gain some invaluable experience working on large-scale artworks while understanding of the processes involved in such ambitious projects.

I also wanted our pupils to understand the importance of pacing themselves when it comes to making art – the best pieces take time to come together, you simply cannot expect them to be achieved in a matter of minutes. What is it that makes a group project of this nature valuableto the pupils' artisti understandingand development? Murals are usually presented in public forums and are made to brighten a space but also to provide that space with its own unique stamp. I think at Huili we have already made our mark and developed an identity as a school and a community, even in the space of a single year. With this group project, I think the pupils are already showing a great sense of pride in their work and taking ownership of what they produce.

I think it will be valuable in years to come for them to look back and know what they are capable of achieving great things both individually and as part of a team. Through Art Week, I wanted them to have the mindset of: ‘the sky is the limit’ when it comes to their individual creativity as well as their collaborative art projects. Were there any cross-curricular links involved during Art Week? Absolutely, at Huili the Arts are seen as a collaborative venture between departments, so it made sense to connect this project with the music and performing arts departments. Mr Hannan and Ms Wang were an essential part of the conceptual phase of the mural design process, as we hope to portray the beautiful links between Chinese and Western music and performance.

What was the pupils' reaction to Art Week overall? I’m delighted to say that our pupils took their mural projects very seriously while having an enormous amount of fun at the same time – just as it should be! Painting a wall was a big deal for them, they did not want to waste the opportunity because they care so much about the look of the school and what these walls represent. The younger pupils especially relished the chance to improvise, play around, cut and paste so many different materials they don’t normally come in contact with during a regular art lesson. They very much enjoyed the challenges that come with working with such unconventional materials.

I think they were also pleasantly surprised to discover what they can do with items they would normally refer to as ‘rubbish’. What was your favourite momentof Art Week? My favourite moment was when the lift doors on level 5 opened during day three, so I could see that what once was a blank wall had been turned into something so colourful, dynamic and beautiful. What was the response to Huili’s first art exhibition as part of Art Week? It was sensational, and a very proud moment for everyone involved. The art exhibition showcased the work and creativity of all pupils across all grades at Huili. It was a particular highlight of the week because the works on display showed the vast range of skills, lessons and insights that our pupils have learned this year, while hinting at what they can achieve in the future, now that they have a strong understanding of colour theory, drawing techniques and working with a wide range of materials.

It was also very fitting and exciting to open the exhibition up to Huili parents, who could come to view the artworks on display after the parent workshop on the Thursday morning. Seeing their reactions to the pupils’ work made it that much more special. Mr Jootna, Ms Peng and I are extremely proud of everything the pupils have achieved during Art Week and indeed throughout this academic year.

It was a genuine pleasure to see the murals gradually come to life and now we have made another indelible mark on the school that we all love and share. I cannot wait to see what our talented pupils are capable of producing next year.