Environmental exhibition inspires eco-minded primaries to a natural high

16th April 2010 at 01:00
Touring show `Radical Nature' boosts awareness of green issues in East Ayrshire schools

It may have been dismissed by The Guardian's critic as "mostly puerile tosh", but a world-class exhibition about art and the environment, which has been on show in East Ayrshire since January, has been used to boost eco-awareness in local primary schools.

More than 20 schools applied to take part in an arts "experience", designed around the "Radical Nature - Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969-2009" exhibition, which launched at the Barbican in London last summer. The East Ayrshire display, which finishes tomorrow, is part of its world tour.

From the 20 schools, six were visited by specialists who worked with P7 classes over the course of five sessions to create presentations on the topics scrap dance, junk percussion, superhero animation, nature's drama and sculpting the planet.

The work they produced, which included musical instruments made from rubbish, and dancing to the sound of dustbin lids, was showcased by pupils at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock, the exhibition's main venue, at the end of term in front of an invited audience.

Eleanor Pottinger's P7 class from Nether Robertland Primary, in Stewarton, took part in the Radical Nature drama presentation.

"As a very eco-aware school, we were really pleased to get the chance to take part in the arts workshops," she said. "We have an eco-committee at the school and have just been awarded our second Green Flag (an eco- award).

"The children spent a week at the (outdoor education centre) Dolphin House in Culzean at the beginning of the year, working towards their John Muir Award (an environmental education scheme). As they have been involved in eco-matters since P1, I thought the Radical Nature project would be a nice way to round off their primary-school experience."

The beauty and wonder of the natural world have provided inspiration for centuries, but Radical Nature is the first exhibition of its kind to show how, since the 1960s, artists and architects have responded to the degradation of the environment and the effects of climate change.

The exhibition includes a film about the longest gas pipeline in the world; photographs of the wheat field which was planted and harvested beside New York's twin towers in 1982; a floating island of growing Scottish weeds; and a mound of live Ayrshire grass which has to be watered every day.



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