Purl of a day with celebrity

12th September 2003 at 01:00
The large frieze now hanging on a wall at Tyrie Primary, near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire, is a lasting reminder to pupils of two days they spent with one of the world's leading textile designers, Kaffe Fassett.

Last week he turned up for a special workshop which involved pupils working with him to make a tapestry featuring 27 small figures - one for every pupil - each with a hand-knitted jumper.

He also visited in May when he found out the school was putting together a resource pack about his old friend, the fashion designer Bill Gibb, who died in 1988.

Gibb, who was born in the neighbouring village of New Pitsligo, inspired Mr Fassett, from San Francisco, to knit by taking him on a trip to the Scottish Woollen Mill. He fell in love with the colours of the Shetland wool and since then has acquired a world-wide reputation for his bright and original designs.

Gibb would have had his 60th birthday this year, so the resource pack is a homage to him, explains headteacher Sarah Simpson.

The school has strong links with Gibb, not only because he was brought up locally, but also because his sister, Patsy Davidson, works there as a classroom assistant.

"Mrs Davidson has been invaluable," says Ms Simpson. "We have had access to drawings, clothes and jewellery as well as a huge amount of information from family members. And she got in touch with Kaffe."

Mr Fassett says: "Patsy Davidson told me they were wanting to bring art and crafts into the school. I thought it was a fantastic idea so I went to visit them earlier this year and thought, wouldn't it be nice to do a project with them?

"It was a great day. I've always known kids are fabulous but you forget what it is like to be with them. They use so much imagination and are very inventive; they put us grown-up artists to shame."

Ms Simpson says: "This was a one-off workshop and we are so lucky that he agreed to spend a day here. It was excellent and the children got a lot out of it.

"It's been excellent on a lot of levels. The children have been exposed to famous people and now they take it in their stride. And the amount of other work which has come out of it has been surprising.

"They were describing things and using science by looking at how different fabrics and textiles work together. The children probably think it's just art but it's a whole lot more than that."

The outcomes of the resource pack idea also show that even a rural school with only a small number of pupils can do anything, Ms Simpson says.

"It has been a tremendous project and we have enjoyed doing it. Careers Scotland have had some input and the pack will be available to other schools," she adds.

For more on the Bill Gibb resource pack contact Linda Cowie at Careers Scotland, tel 01224 285200

Aberdeen Art Gallery is running an exhibition of Gibb's creations until November 15, tel 01224 523700

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