Larbert High School

Chinese Garden Windows Project

The ASD Provision of the school has its own secluded garden that is a bit tired and neglected looking so the staff and pupils had decided to give it a make over and transform it into a Chines themed garden; linking in with the school's cultural development work with the Chinese community.  The garden is accessed by a set of two glass doors and is also overlooked by three windows, all off of the ASD corridor.  It isn't a very appealing outlook.

When the school were looking for a project for me to work with this area immediately grabbed my attention and I proposed we bring the garden into the corridor by decorating the windows.  From the outset we knew that budgets would be limited so I suggested we design the windows for stained glass but we execute the design using vinyl overlays and stick on leads.  This also meant we wouldn't disturb the safety properties of the doors and windows. 

We started the process by introducing the pupils to the basic principles of stained glass design; keep the lines simple, the shapes simple and the colours simple.  Since the pupils were being taught about Vincent Van Gogh I thought I could dovetail into their art learning by using his work as the basis of the developments.

After completing that exercise I encouraged the pupils to research Chines imagery and culture; this was a good exercise to align with their humanities lessons.  The pupils then drew their favourite images which was a good process for limiting the potential components for the window designs.

Chines lanterns had been mentioned and I was keen to have the pupils working with glass so I introduced them to an activity using upcycled glass jars from their homes.  This allowed me to highlight the environmental impact of working with glass and that up and recycling glass is a good sustainable practice.  The activity took some of their designs and they used torn tissue paper and PVA glue to decorate the jars.  This was on the lead up to Halloween so we thought it would be great fun to make some spooky jars too.  These were great to helping to decorate their lounge area.

When we returned to the windows project I asked them to single out a design component for them to make as a vinyl overlay panel; using all of the design and making processes used in making a stained glass window.

I informed the pupils that the vinyl was also recycled.  I had approached a local sign writing and livery company and explained the school's exercise.  I asked if they had any offcuts that could be recycled and the very generously provided a broad array of colours, and all free of charge.  Another opportunity to introduce sustainable practices along with developing community partnership working.

While the pupils were busy with this activity, I worked in tandom to develop the design for the doors and windows.  I explored the principle of Chines art and culture to ensure the design was respectful of the community and their values.  I then engaged with the staff with design options and proposals and finalised the design.

The design is now being scaled up and will be executed in the coming weeks.

I think you'll see from the photographs how much fun and pride the pupils took in their work.