Children's portraits create a lasting impression

12th July 1996 at 01:00
When the school photographer visits Grangetown County Infants School in Cardiff, he'll have problems palming pupils off with postcard-size prints. These children like their enlargements to be big, really big - in fact, nothing less than 3.5 by 2.5 metres.

The four massive portraits that beam down from the playground wall were created by community artists Louise Shenstone and Adrian Butler with a combination of an ancient craft and new technology.

The pictures are mosaics - intricate patterns of coloured tiles which faithfully reproduce photographs of seven-year-old Aimee Steele and her chums.

The images were captured during a snap-shooting session in the playground by an Apple QuickTake digital camera. Using Adobe's Photoshop, the pictures were viewed in pixelated form - that is, as a welter of coloured dots, rather like an impressionistic painting. Then each pixel was matched with a tile of the corresponding colour. The final effect is stunning. When you're close to the wall, all you see is an abstract pattern, but as you step back, the images become clear.

From three metres or so, it's impossible to believe that they are no more than an arrangement of 6,000 tiles.

Headmistress Mrs Rosemary Palmer, who commissioned the artists as part of a Pounds 30,000 scheme to transform the school in this down-at-heel corner of town, says: "It has transformed what was a very drab playground. And, unlike a mural, it will never fade. The children are becoming dab hands at mosaic. The wasps and dragonflies that also adorn the wall are all their own work, and notice boards in the classrooms are festooned with their crayoned blueprints of what they want to do next."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today