A School is a Building Which has Four Walls with Tomorrow Inside

December 22 2015
Don Watters

Northampton School for Girls Centenary Painting. 1915 -2015.  

A Lenticular Text Painting by Jamie Poole

Northampton School for Girls is one hundred years old. For a century the school has educated the girls of Northampton and the surrounding areas. I am really honoured to have had the privilege of making and artwork to commemorate this celebration.  
I wanted to create an artwork that people could view as a physical experience.  I know, as a teacher at the school, about the enthusiasm, energy, and many lessons that go on every day. I decided to create an artwork that would reflect the history and learning at the school using a lenticular format. This would mean that the image on the artwork would actually change as you passed it in the corridor, taking you from the past to the present. Below are the two images which I decided to use to make the piece.
Northampton School For Girls 1915
Northampton School for Girls, Music College , 2015
Once I had the images and the idea to create this artwork I needed to decide what medium to use. Previously, I have made my larger artworks using printed words, to create the artwork; the words being significant in some way to the subject. For example, in a portrait of my wife, I used words from her favourite poems.  For this painting, I decided to use the names from the register of girls present in the school in 1915, and from the 2015 register.  Look closely, and  you can see how names have changed!  Below is the test piece I made to see if the ideas of a lenticular text ‘painting’ would work.


The next pictures show how the painting looks when the images are combined or mixed from a front view, rather than at an angle as in the previous photographs. In the second image a close up of the sample shows how the names of students have been used to make a portrait.
The inspiration for using words in this way originated from learning about the way the artist Chuck Close uses a grid of squares to help him create his super realist portraits. To make text paintings I divide the surface into 4cm squares and then produce a full size copy of the images I am working from, which are also squared. Then that is it, I am ready to go! The words are cut using scalpel blade and the different tones from the sheets are used to create the image square by square. The pictures below show the 2015 Orchestra before and after painting.
This show the painting when all the preparation was done and I was ready to start!
The first side of the NSG painting almost completed using the names of new students in 2015.
This painting has, as you can imagine been a massive undertaking. Every detail of the painting is made using the printed names of the students. The portraits take a particularly long time to create and each column of the lenticular support can take up to 3 hours to finish. This is easily the largest and most challenging work I have made to date, but the joy and excitement of seeing the painting appear is both rewarding and satisfying. It took three full time weeks to complete the 2015 orchestra and even longer to
complete the classroom of 1915. This has 21 portraits, some of which are tiny and require serious concentration to get each piece of paper in the correct position.
The images above show some of the detail in the artwork and how the strips of words are used to make the portraits in the painting. This particular portrait came to life after the highlights in the eyes were added to give a glint to her eyes. What strikes me about the girls in this picture is how they remind me so much of the students that I teach in art classes today. Also, I often wonder how many of those girls had fathers away fighting in the First World War and what they might have been thinking or feeling.
Northampton School for Girls Centenary Painting 1915 view.
Northampton School for Girls Centenary Painting 2015 view.

"To breathe the Wind and Watch the Red Kite Flying"

December 13 2015
Red Kite Flying Poem by Adrian Williams

Whilst driving along the old roads and lanes of Northamptonshire my attention is always drawn to the soaring and majestic shapes of red kites. Their distinctive shape and the way they seem to sail through the sky is fascinating. This spectacular bird of prey, has a two metre wingspan and has really made a great come back in this county.


This chestnut red bird was almost hunted to extinction in Britain after being culled as a threat to livestock in the 19th Century. Earlier on, they were also culled by King James II of Scotland in the mid-15th Century, but in England and Wales kept the streets free of carrion and rotting food. That was until Tudor times when under “vermin laws” they were seen as competitors for produce. Bounties were given by the parish for their carcasses.
However, in recent times a partnership between English Nature, the Forestry Commission and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), reintroduced the red kite with great success. There are now hundreds of pairs, especially in Northamptonshire which is a great county for wildlife.

I take great pleasure in seeing these birds in Nene Valley near Irthlingborough and enjoy pointing them out to my daughter when we are out walking or driving. They make you aware of the surrounding landscape and somehow help you feel part of the natural world. 

Other interesting facts from the RSPB:

  • They are part of the Hawk and eagle family.

  • You can also see them in the Chilterns, central Scotland and Wales. 

  • They can be seen all year around.

  • These birds love to eat carrion and worms, but will occasionally take small mammals. 
  •  
  • There are about 1600 breeding pairs in the UK.

  • Poisoning is also the most frequent cause of death of kites in England. 

  • Red kites are especially vulnerable to the modern rodenticides used to control rats, since they are skilled in finding the corpses of poisoned rats.


Have you seen or even taken some great photographs of these birds in the Nene valley? If you have, perhaps you could share them my facebook page – Jamie Poole Artist. 
The Red Kite Feeding Station, Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire.

Original-jamie_poole_artist




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