For the past two years the primary students at McBride Annex have been engaged in a study project, discovering what it means to be part of a community by exploring, and then reflecting on their natural surroundings through art.
Led by artists and environmental experts, all 82 Annex students took part in a series of major field trips - to Third Beach and the forest at Stanley Park, to Centennial Beach on Boundary Bay and to the top of Little Mountain in Queen Elizabeth Park. When they returned to their classrooms, these excursions were the inspiration for a myriad of art projects.
Artist and educator Amelia Epp taught the kids about composing their drawings with foreground, middle ground and background. After outlining their images with special pencils the kids applied water to turn sketches into delicate watercolour paintings. "I got my ideas from the real world and I used my imagination for others," said one Division 3 student.
Artists and long-time collaborators Gerald Morisseau and Bill Hoopes steered the students through the final, and largest, artwork of the project - a mural mosaic for one of the school's outside walls called Reflections of Our Community. Morisseau explained the students came up with the initial ideas. Working in groups of 12, they then placed one inch coloured glass tiles into mortar to create two-foot by two-foot sections.
"The kids really enjoyed it; they didn't want to leave to go back to class," he said.
This cross-curricular, student-driven initiative was launched by Vice Principal Deanna Robertson and made possible by a Betty Wellburn Artistic Legacies grant of almost $10,000. Betty Wellburn was a visionary art coordinator who wanted to provide funding for teachers to work with eminent artists. She hoped together they could design collaborative projects which would leave a lasting impression and promote meaningful and innovative artistic experiences for VSB students.
Robertson believes the McBride Annex study and the mosaic have more than met those goals. "It's a big legacy piece for the community," she said.
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