Primary School Mandala Project.

As a local artist and mother of two children who have attended Kings Worthy Primary School, I felt I wanted to do something with the school before my daughter left and my 14 year primary school adventure ends. I've always suffered with health problems, so I was unable to contribute much to the school. I never volunteered or joined the PTA as it was all too much for me. I realised however that, with my daughter now in year 6, this would be the last opportunity to offer something back to the school. My health has improved and over the years I obtained a PTLLS teaching qualification and have run workshops for various age groups.

I have made mandalas for almost 20 years. For me, they are an excellent outlet for creativity, and have allowed me to stick with my own art work and projects and develop as an artist. Mandalas are circular designs that can be found all over the world. In Tibet, mandalas are made out of sand, in India, Rangoli mandalas are made out of rice flour or coloured powders. The symbolism behind these mandalas is the impermanence of life and the changing cycles and seasons. The end result is temporary which makes the process of making the mandalas important. Just like the Year 6's coming to the end of their time at primary school, it's not the fact they made it to year 6! it's all the journeys, friends, education, social skills etc that they have learned along the way. The process is important.

Inspired by the Robert's Creek community art project in America  I suggested to the school that Year 6 create a mandala outside that can be weathered and fade over the coming year, then next year, the new Year 6's can create their own design which will be painted over the old mandala. A new tradition. Something that acts as a gift from the outgoing Year 6 to the rest of the school, something the whole school can look at and remember the children that have moved on to secondary school, and a symbol that time is precious and every thing changes. I was very grateful to hear that the school loved the idea and plans were put in place. We sourced a 1.6m wooden cable drum which would be our canvas to paint on. The project came after a challenging week of SATS and served as welcome downtime after all the pressures of tests.

We began on Friday morning. I introduced mandalas to the children and explained where you can find them, what they represent in different traditions around the world and how we were going to create our own Year 6 Mandala. I also introduced the children to nature mandalas (mandalas made with natural found materials) and showed them pictures of ones that I had made. The children then took a template of a mandala which they were asked to add to and colour in. I asked the children to think about all the things they have done whilst at Kings Worthy primary, to think about all the friends and adventures... The mandala they create represents all those things. It was lovely to hear the children reminisce and remember events right back from Year 1.  We had some amazing variations and colourful designs. The year group then voted for their favourite mandala design. Over the weekend, I drew the design up ready for us to work from.

On Tuesday the children came in messy clothes with bags of found natural materials. Small groups came to paint the mandala while the others made nature mandalas in the Woodland Walk. Every child helped paint a part of the mandala. It was a really enjoyable experience with every child adding their part to the design. We used left over emulsion paint, so the project was also an exercise in re-using and re-purposing old things, limiting waste and re-cycling. We didn't have to spend anything to create lots of beautiful artwork. The nature mandalas the children made were absolutely beautiful. So may variations, so much colour and thought, it was a real joy to see how enthusiastically and carefully the children had arranged their materials. 

I look forward to going back next year and working with the new Year 6's and continuing a tradition that allows the children to get creative, play outdoors and have some downtime after SATS week. It's been a pleasure to offer my services and work with the students and teachers. I hope the children enjoyed it as much as I did! I would encourage anyone who has a skill to share to contact your local school and work with the children. It's been a fantastic opportunity and experience. Thank you!