The Stone Jetty Ramblings

1 September 2012 · 0 comments

in Art & Music Outdoors, Literacy Outdoors

I feel like I should be apologising madly for being a disorganised blogger. I know a lot of people pop by this site around this time of the year as the school year begins. In a perfect world, I’d be giving you my “Top 10 tips for starting outside with your class” or “How to set up your outdoor play space.” Well maybe the next post… or possibly next year…

Part of the reason, is that I’m still savouring my holiday. The blog posts are my way of sifting through the memories, reflecting, organising and reliving the experience. It was a culturally rich fortnight as we travelled from Alnwick to Hull, Cambridge, Kent, London, Stratford, Alton Towers and Blackpool.

It was also real down time for me. My work is incredibly hectic. I’m never sure why as I never intentionally plan it this way. But I love being able to wander at leisure around a town, soaking up the atmosphere, using the weather as an excuse for diving into a coffee shop and have casual and deep conversations with friends and family.

Most “attractions” are not attractively priced. It is not uncommon for a family of four to have to fork out around £50-60 to go to a castle, or have a day out somewhere. So I’m on an eternal quest to find out what else is around that is “free.” Public art work in different guises is part of this and it’s just been a chance thing that so much of it I’ve blogged about recently happens to have been undertaken by Gordon Young. What helps is that it’s easy to find his work via his website.

Much of Gordon’s work is very accessible too – in every sense of the word. The cormorants above were popular with lots of passers-by who all wanted to pose alongside the birds. There’s something curiously sociable about this trio hanging out on the rocks, drying their wings and guarding the entrance to the Stone Jetty.

Looking at other people’s ideas, stories and interpretations of the world in which we live provides me with food for thought and ideas to stimulate my mind. These experiences sow seeds of possibility. For example, I’ve only ever made temporary mazes and labyrinths. So looking at permanent versions and experiencing them first hand adds to the totality of my understanding about the potential of these features.

I don’t think we can ever have too many jokes. Years ago, at one school, part of our approach towards reducing our energy consumption was a “joke.” The children wrote jokes and put them up beside each light switch in the school. We thought it might be a bit more fun than a “Remember to switch off the lights.” And an incentive to encourage all children to read for enjoyment.

But look at this photo below. I never would have thought to put a tongue twister on a seat! It’s a rather beautiful stone circle…

There’s birds all over the stone jetty. A lot of them are hanging out the way birds do, except they don’t fly off when you approach or hassle you for tidbits of food. It reminds me to be more imaginative with artwork outdoors. Very often it’s a prominent feature of a school ground rather than a quirky surprise hidden in a corner or a little contribution to the overall aesthetics of a place.

I think the other reason I’m still hanging on to my holidays, is that I’m in the throes of writing a book. This is so much more challenging that a blog. With my blog, I can rely on the photos to do much of the talking. It’s a lazy way of writing in a certain sense, or at least it tends not to require as much effort most of the time.

But when illustrations are apt to drive up the cost of book, I’m trying to have as few as possible. So I’m having to ensure that my words form the pictures in the readers mind. And this is all a bit of a gamble for me really.

Back to these photos… in the above one, it’s a magpie hopscotch that takes you from earth up to heaven. The instructions are given either side. And onlookers can sit on the stone bird eggs whilst watching, knowing it won’t make them hatch!

The words above are a circular wordsearch about birds. I wonder if there is an app for making things like that now. I bet it’s possible to create a rubbing of all the different words to prove you’ve found them.

The wordsearch and compass below have been beautifully photographed here. I would love a super-sized compass in every school ground. Suddenly the implications of each degree are spelled out in a way that’s not normally seen on a little protractor. One degree out, can be a large margin of error on a global scale, especially for geese flying north.

So I will try and be more organised about the timing of my posts. Over the next few weeks there are more book giveaways – again a chance matter, along with usually mishmash of random happenings. Regardless I wish everyone going back to school all the best for the new session and to enjoy their job as much as possible.

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