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Project that grew from tiny seeds

It could be yours. Additional Lottery money is to be made available for Scottish youth arts projects. The message to applicants is 'think big'. Julie Morrice reports

It started with me wanting to do something about this quad in the school," says headteacher Heather MacKay, gesturing at a bare concrete rectangle in the middle of Chatelherault Primary in Hamilton. "And then it just grew and grew."

The Chatelherault environmental sculpture project has been funded by New Directions to the tune of pound;15,300. From a desire to brighten up a courtyard with a few planters filled with spring bulbs, it has become a project involving all the school and extending into the wider community.

Borders artist Tim Stead has been commissioned to create one of his extraordinary wooden sculptures for the courtyard. This adaptable, interactive creation, which speaks strongly of the tree from which it was made, has been the starting-point for an environmental project, leading the children into writing poetry, learning brick-laying, and exploring the relationship between people and the natural world.

The project is an example to headteachers who feel they couldn't find the time to run such a vast programme of events.

Part of the funding was earmarked for employing a manager to keep control of the whole thing. Heather MacKay oversees the project as a whole, but Fiona Brown co-ordinates the workshops, collates the children's ideas for the design of the courtyard and keeps tabs on everything that is going on. An arrangement like this could open project possibilities to the kind of schools which need them most.

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