Historic heads win victory

14th October 2005 at 01:00
Our school entered a Trafalgar 200 competition which involved the design and manufacture of a figurehead as an extra-curricular activity. Twelve Year 9 pupils researched everything from the battle of Trafalgar to planets in our solar system. Sketches were made of ideas and three designs were chosen: Nelson, Ellen MacArthur and an astronaut - "Three heads of victory", depicting past, present and future sailors of the sea and stars.

A 3D wooden frame was constructed and chicken wire and papier-mache formed into the shape of the figures. The use of Mod-Roc enabled details of the facial features to be shown. Finally, acrylic paint gave the figurehead a high-quality finish.

As we are an inner-city Birmingham school, many miles from the sea, it was an unusual project for us, but this was the aim of organiser, SeaBritain 2005 - to get people interested in maritime affairs even if they don't live by the coast.

We found the competition at seaandlearn.co.uk. This website offers full schemes of work surrounding the celebrations. After some interest from the press, a local company, Firmin Sons, offered to manufacture the buttons for our figurehead, using the original press that made Nelson's buttons.

This was a fantastic opportunity for children to visit a local industry and see the manufacturing process.

Our pupils won a place at the finals in Portsmouth during the summer Trafalgar 200 events and took part in the International Festival of the Sea, Drumhead Ceremony and Fleet Review.

Ours was the overall winning figurehead and it's now on display in the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. Pupils received VIP tickets to the Trafalgar Square grand finale. By entering this competition, pupils learnt a tremendous amount and gained researching skills in history, design and technology, art, teamwork, dedication and commitment.

Jennifer Jones Holte Visual Performing Arts College, Birmingham

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