Saturday Art Club – Children’s Art Week 1: The Natural World

It’s the first week of Children’s Art Week 2020! Museums across the UK are participating in this three-week programme hosted by Engage to provide opportunities for children and families to get involved with a variety of art activities.

The theme for the first week is ‘The Natural World’. COVID-19 has highlighted to us all just how precious the planet is and how it is our responsibility to take great care of it. At GoMA, this feeling is captured by the work of Joel Sternfeld, an American photographer, in his 518 101st Street, Love Canal neighbourhood, Niagara Falls, New York photograph.

This quaint house reveals a much more challenging history when you read Sternfeld’s accompanying text:

From the 1920s through the 1950s, the city of Niagara Falls, the United States Army, and the Hooker Chemical Corporation dumped over two hundred different toxic chemicals into Love Canal. Many of them contained dioxin, one of the most lethal chemicals known. In 1953, Hooker Chemical covered the then-dry Love Canal with a thin layer of dirt, and sold it to the Niagara Falls Board of Education for one dollar. The terms of the sale stipulated that if anyone incurred physical harm or death because of the buried waste, Hooker could not be held liable. A school was constructed on the site of the waste dump and private homes were built nearby.

In the late 1970s, an unusually high number of birth defects, miscarriages, cancers, and other illnesses were reported in the Love Canal neighborhood by the Niagara Falls Gazette. Lois Gibbs, whose two children developed rare blood disorders, led a successful grassroots campaign to have the state of New York purchase the homes of five hundred families, enabling them to relocate.

The artwork really encapsulates the effects of human impact on the planet. Let’s take this as inspiration and, instead of using new materials, let’s create artworks from recycling the rubbish inside our homes!

You will need:

  • Rubbish: cardboard packaging is most preferable
  • Something to colour in: pens, pencils, or paint 
  • Glue
  • Scissors

To start, look for some bits of cardboard packaging around the home. It can be toilet paper tubes, cereal or tea boxes, or anything else!

Now you will need to think of an image that represents what the ‘natural world’ means to you. We thought of a nice tree, because trees are very important to give us fresh oxygen every day! We are going to use the cardboard to make our tree. You don’t need to draw it first, but you can do so if it’s easier for you.

When you are ready, cut all the different parts of the tree separately: the trunk, the branches, the leaves.

Now use your glue to stick all these bits together onto a larger bit of cardboard.

Looking good! It just needs a bit of colour. Use paint or some coloured pens or pencils to colour in your recycled artwork!

And that’s it all finished now!

Remember to share your creations with us in in the comments section or on social media @glasgowgoma #SaturdayArtClub

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