Chesterfield school uses students’ imagination to create a lasting legacy

Illustrator Steve Smallwood visited Outwood Academy in Newbold to work with the pupils.
Illustrator Steve Smallwood visited Outwood Academy in Newbold to work with the pupils.

Students at a Chesterfield school have created a mural that will adorn the entrance to their library - thanks to a children’s illustrator.

Outwood Academy Newbold on Highfield Lane invited acclaimed artist, Steve Smallman, to help them create the piece over the course of a four day visit.

Steve is pictured working with the pupils.

Steve is pictured working with the pupils.

When finished, the mural will be spilt into two sides - one featuring good characters and the other, evil ones - all created from the children’s own imaginations.

Librarian, Joanna Hill, said: “Children are given so much visually at the moment but we know they love to draw.

“So, we wanted to try to go back in time a bit and back to the basics of using their imagination and creating things out of their own heads.

“I also wanted a large piece of artwork that the kids had produced which would go round the doors to raise the profile of the library within the school.”

Pictured is Ellie Jones, 12.

Pictured is Ellie Jones, 12.

Over four days working at the school, Steve worked with every Year Seven student as well as children from three local ‘feeder’ primary schools.

He says getting the ideas from the children really inspires him and that thinking about how the characters are feeling helps the children understand the creative process.

Principal, Steve Roberts, said: “We are passionate about art in this school so we thought framing the doorway like this would make the entrance to the library something really exciting.

“Steve has a wonderful way with the students - he lets their imagination run wild and helps them visualise their ideas no matter how different they are - there’s no such thing as a bad idea.

Pictured are Sam Ridgeway, 11, and Ella Ryall, 12.

Pictured are Sam Ridgeway, 11, and Ella Ryall, 12.

“It’s lovely to see the kids accessing their imagination and some of the characters that they have created have been amazing - like the tiger who is really scared of things like rabbits, mice and frogs.”

It was obvious that the students who had been working with Steve had been really enjoying it too.

Amy Richards, 12, said: “I like drawing and seeing what I have created on display for everyone to see.”

And Humayra Riaz, also 12, said: “I really like drawing and I really like reading and this brings both of those things together.

Steve is pictured working with the pupils.

Steve is pictured working with the pupils.

“I’m sketching a character for the evil side of the design at the moment that will hopefully be make it to the mural itself - as long as it works.”

Artist, Steve, said: “I try to keep it as close to their ideas as possible as I think it is important that their style comes through - so it remains something they own.

“I mainly work with primary school children and their ideas have such a freedom and innocence. By this age they are a bit more circumspect but they’re still great.”