Having had a brief back in September to brighten up the courtyard to the rear of the 3D Art room, with the help of Years 7 and 8, I had plenty of time to think and plan.
Looking at the boat building heritage of Cornwall, I really wanted to bring some of that into the school, and also wanted to make a link to the artistic heritage of the St Ives Modernists. So I sketched an idea for some self-standing triangular green oak frames on which we could stretch canvasses. Green oak was traditionally used by Cornish boat builders, and the canvasses I wanted to resonate with yachting. I sent the idea to Miss Reay and she loved it!
Time to get started contacting local timber yards for the oak and sailmakers to make up the bespoke canvasses. By mid-May I had all the materials in the studio and began making the jigs to position the timber and then cut and assemble the frames. Once built, the canvas had to be stretched on the frames and treated against mould before I disassembled everything and loaded it on the truck to travel to Woldingham. Once at the school I reassembled the frames and Carol, from Year 11, helped me re-stretch the canvas.
The next day I spoke to Year 8 about the artist Patrick Heron (currently having a retrospective exhibition at Tate St Ives) who used his garden to inspire colour in his abstract paintings. Year 8 worked with me gathering colours from Pergola Walk and collecting shapes from the flowers and plants in the school’s garden. These shapes were then simplified following a technique used by Piet Mondrian and became abstract forms which were arranged into pleasing triangular compositions and painted on A4 paper.
On the final day Year 7 took these small triangular compositions, scaled them up onto the canvasses and carefully painted them with acrylic paint to create the brightly coloured 'sails' of the final sculptures.
Greg Humphries, St Ives School of Painting