Students box off war commemorations

Pupils at work on their matchboxes.
Pupils at work on their matchboxes.

Morecambe High School pupils recently produced a project designed to commemorate World War One.

PGCE Art & Design trainees on the University of Cumbria course based in Lancaster worked on the WW1 in a Matchbox project with Year 7 students.

Based on the fact that 2014 is the centenary of World War One, the project aimed to use an empty matchbox to create a personal piece of work to respond to an aspect of the war.

This project arose from ‘TEA’: Thinking, Expression, Action. Initially starting as a professional development programme for art teachers, the work was celebrated at the TEA Symposium at the National Gallery, London in November 2013.

Although only a total of two hours curriculum time, it is hoped the art project will be a starting point to encourage the students to think about the effects of the war through making their own creative, practical response.

Working in small groups the students were given a ‘mini art kit’ which included their matchbox and materials they might need to produce their response to the brief: to make a personal response to World War One in a matchbox.

Visiting lecturer Joanna Walton said: “Students worked well discussing ideas and sketching or writing down ideas they came up with.

“A few Year 7 pupils mentioned they had relatives serving in the Armed Forces in the 21st century, so the aspect of war is highly poignant for some and some spoke of grandads being involved in World War Two.”

Responses appeared as tiny aeoroplanes, mini trenches, war enclosed in barbed wire, tanks and parcels to loved ones who were fighting in the war. There were references to the parts pigeons, dogs and horses played in the war. All this came from a matchbox, scraps of paper, wire, bits of burnt match, fabric, etc – and their imagination.

“In the time allocated they could not possibly learn about the entire history of World War One, that was never the intention, but certainly to spark their interest so they might be curious enough to find out more, possibly about their own family connections to WW1 and be more informed about the centenary commemorative events happening in 2014,” Joanna said.

The final session ended with a jelly baby, because Bassetts brought out the sweets after World War One – initially calling them Peace Babies – to mark the end of the war.