Winning mural about Manchester

26th May 2006 at 01:00
Last year, our Year 6 pupils entered a mural competition organised by Northern Rail. The theme was Our Day Out in Manchester by Train and Tram, and the winning mural would be displayed at the city's Victoria Station.

The train company sent each of the participating schools a huge piece of paper, measuring 2m x 18m, which was laid across the hall. As the mural was being created it became a focal point for the whole school.

We began by talking about local artists. The children liked the work of LS Lowry and Liam Spencer - best known for his vivid portrayals of urban landscape. They were particularly struck by Spencer's skies and Lowry's matchstick men, and went on to incorporate ideas from both artists in the mural.

I divided the pupils into two groups - one to do the buildings and another to do the skyline. The children did different buildings, and the journey they depicted started at Manchester City Football Club's grounds and finished at Manchester United's stadium.

We drew the buildings on black sugar paper to create a silhouette effect.

In the foreground we placed a large train and tram tracks with overhead cables. Nearly every building the children talked about is depicted in the mural, including the Chinese Arch in Chinatown (we have many Chinese children in the school).

We talked about Dick Whittington and how he had heard that London's streets were paved with gold. The pupils decided to put gold along the bottom of the mural and on the train and tram tracks. We also added art straws, string and cellophane. Every child also created at least one figure in a style derived from Lowry, but with a multicultural twist.

We sent the finished work off to Northern Rail. The pupils were overjoyed when we won and felt a huge sense of achievement when they saw the mural displayed at Victoria Station (see below).

This wonderful project helped the pupils learn a lot about Manchester, local artists, railways and trams. There was a lot of language work, and it was great for encouraging teamwork.

Angela Burke

Arts and design co-ordinator, St Patrick's RC School, Collywood, Manchester

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