Artist-designer Andy Bartlett is putting the joy back into art with school children in Sussex.
Andy - otherwise known as Onnie Bucket from the way he used to say his name - was drafted in to Balcombe CE School last March.
Using his expertise and enthusiasm the pupils have been working on different art projects combined with their educational learning topics.
The result is a school building full of corridors and classrooms of bright murals that are the result of input from every pupils as well as staff and parents.
Head teacher Wendy Littlefair said initially the children expressed the greatest interest in graffiti and were taught how it was done as well as where graffiti was appropriate.
Andy and teaching staff then tapped into the pupils’ fired-up enthusiasm and embarked on an online school art competition which led to the murals and a dinosaur project.
Wendy said the children helped choose the themes and subject matter for the murals and then watched as a blank wall in the reception area was transformed into an imagined view of the South Downs complete with animals representing the school teams – bears, bats, badgers and bees.
Later, while discussing safety in the school, Wendy said some of the youngest children said they felt nervous when going to the toilet, as to them the facilities were “large, dark and unfriendly”.
Andy was asked to design artwork for both the boys’ and girls’ toilets and the whole school submitted ideas.
A selection panel made up of children chose the most popular themes and Andy set to work creating designs that combined them all.
Finally, under cover of dark, he transformed the toilets giving the children a surprise when they returned to discovered mermaids, turtles, clown fish and killer whales on the previously bare walls.
Andy, who had a job in the City before moving to Lindfield less than two years ago, said working with schoolchildren was the most “exciting” aspect of being an artist-designer.
“It’s given me the opportunity to do something I have really wanted to do for a long time without it feeling like work,” he said.
A gallery of the entries in the school art competition can be viewed on Andy’s website at www.onniebucket.com by selecting the ‘schools’ menu tab and clicking ‘The Great Outdoors Art Competition’.