“I walk my dog this way to look at them, I spot something new every time” and “I see them sparkle every day when I go by on the bus, they are so beautiful” are just two of the comments made by the local community on the new murals at Oakfield Prep School. Members who live nearby, or travel up and down Croxted Road, will have noticed the new additions to the school buildings on each side of the junction with Thurlow Park Road. Designed to signify the 125th anniversary of the school on the site to the south of the junction (the northern extension on the other side of the road dates from post WW2), they were the result of a competition organised by the head teacher, Jane Stevens.
The brief emphasised the importance of giving the school’s pupils an opportunity to develop and expand their own creativity as participants in the design process and, following a series of interviews, Julie Norburn from Art4Space was selected. She and her team worked with the head using the school’s archives to generate designs for the two mosaic and ceramic panels. The lower school (south side) made ceramic pieces for the oak tree and the upper school (north side) created the mosaic anniversary panel adding their knowledge as they went along. Children were involved in cutting the tiles and making design and colour decisions, working together piece by piece. The local wider community were also involved through an open access session as were many parents and teachers.
Once the artwork was ready the panels were assembled at the artist’s studio in Stockwell and installed ready for the grand unveiling. Julie notes that “Mosaic and ceramic is a great medium to use in school projects, both are durable mediums which don’t fade over time. The mosaic work allowed the children to work with different materials which brought texture, depth and an interactive quality to the finished art work. The ceramic work allowed the younger years to really get involved, they loved working with clay.”