KEVICC art students visit Avon valley

Avon valley

From : By KEVICC art students who took part

The tranquil Avon valley in late spring was enjoyed by a group of enthusiastic students when professional artist Sara Downham-Lotto welcomed us to her studio hidden on a gentle slop above the river. It was a calming and inspirational trip. The trip was one part of 'RIVER', a joint project between King Edward VI Community College Art Department and the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty unit as part of the AONB’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Meet a working artist

The day began with the opportunity to meet a working artist works and hear their difficulties and experiences within the art world. Then Sara took us on a walk through the winding woodland paths to the River Avon. Although the walk back up the steep green lane was hard going at times, it was definitely worth it. The river was so beautiful.

We came back to the studio and worked from memory to make two large and richly coloured collaborative paintings. It was great being able to draw and paint freely under the instruction of an experienced artist.

Change of scale

It was calm and relaxed so it didn’t feel like there was pressure to create the work, but we still worked hard. Leaving our shared big paintings to dry in the sun we were all given four or five tiny cards and black fine-liner pens. We settled ourselves in the garden to make intimate studies of plants and flowers. Going from large and expressive memory to detailed observation was a real contrast of energy which kept us focussed.

We all found it very interesting to experience such a different and rural environment than being in school. For most people this was quite a change from how we usually work. Oonagh Thorn explains, “It was extremely inspirational to create art within the natural surroundings. It was so great to be outside the classroom.”

By the time we had to go home, we’d worked in groups to cut up sections of the memory paintings and piece them together with the pen drawings. Together we created three large collages which really capture the feeling of the place and the day. The workshop has encouraged us to try work in a different style and technique and experiment with a variety of ideas in the future. “The atmosphere was so fantastic,” says Rachel Venn. “I really enjoyed working with everyone, and I think we made some amazing pieces of art.”

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KEVICC art students visit Avon valley

Close to beautiful nature

Frankie Flynn adds, “Being close to the beautiful nature which is very hidden within the Avon valley made me feel very privileged to live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.” Sara’s cute dog Pepper and the resident guinea fowl honking in the background added to the atmosphere.

“I think this is an experience all art students should do and I would love to do it again,” adds Oonagh. “We worked in a style I haven’t done before. It evoked a lot of ideas; it made me want to create so much more. It was a brilliant trip!”

Sharpham Trust and Ariel Centre

The next highlight of the River project is a day of art on the Sharpham Trust estate, above the River Dart, in June 2010. Pupils representing primary schools across the AONB will join in alongside KEVICC students.  There's also chance to join in with Big Draw activities for the public there on Sunday 17 October 2010: Sharpham Trust 

Look out for the collages and other work from the project on display in the Ariel Centre in October, as part of the national Big Draw celebrations. For more information please contact Mr Wightman, Head of Art at KEVICC.

This article was edited from written feedback by KEVICC students who took part.

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