Big bowls of ice cream or a huge marshmallow in the school playground – it’s the stuff kids dream of! And an artist has made it reality for some children in Liverpool. Sadly for them (but good for us!), this ice cream and marshmallow is made from Jesmonite though.
The art installations have been positioned in Broadsquare Primary School and Leamington Primary School as a way to improve the mental health of the children there. It’s part of a big project by The Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, which has also seen inflatables put up in the courtyard of their School Lane building.
Artist Bruce Asbestos worked with the pupils at each school since September to come up with the eye-catching designs.
“It was an amazing project to work on,” he said.
“When the artworks were installed the kids were chanting ‘peas in a bowl’ – I love that they felt it was part of them and for them.
“Schools don’t often have an artist come in and make work with them so this was special. The idea was to brighten up the area, they wanted something the kids could see every day and raise the profile of creative activity in the community.
“We held a series of workshops together using clay, I got them to bring in things from their house that they liked, teddy bears, small personal objects and I wanted to get them to start thinking about how objects make us feel, how art makes us feel.
“We spoke about friendships, love, acceptance, and how you do that through different things, then the children worked together to come up with a lot of sculptures at first using clay and plasticine.
“Other ideas they had included a giant octopus with 50 legs and a sad bear, we then narrowed them down, merged some ideas and the children voted for a winner.”
Hard wearing Jesmonite
The sculptures were made out of Jesmonite because they needed to be hard wearing as they could be touched by pupils and hardy as they are due to be outside for at least six months.
“I thought about using fibreglass but it is smelly and dirty,” Bruce added.
“With Jesmonite the properties worked, it was easy to sculpt and less smelly, light weight and better for the environment too.
“It was a massive improvement on the fibreglass and I’d like to use it again.”
The artworks have certainly had an impact and Kirsten Roberts from The Bluecoat said the project has had the impact they wanted it to as well.
She said: “This was part of a project we run called Out of the Blue where we outreach to work with children who do not necessarily have access to art or the materials.
“The children have loved it, they have been so excited. They have been involved with, realised it and they get to see it every day – one child who came up with one of the ideas said he now feels seen at his school, he is known for his good idea.
“It has been great for community links and raising artistic profiles, having art in such a public place and the kids are keen to look after them.”
You can read more about the installations in a story by the Liverpool Echo here.
For more information on Bruce Asbestos visit his website
For more information on Bluecoat visit https://www.thebluecoat.org.uk/.