‘Please can we have another one?’ That was the request from St Matthew’s Church of England School in Nechells, Birmingham on the prospect of a second Camera Obscura workshop.
We completed our first zoom Camera Obscura workshop during the summer lockdown. Year Six students enjoyed the logistical challenges of making their own Camera Obscura, then capturing images on it.
The message from the deputy, head teacher, Tracey Adams, was we’d love to do another one in the future.
So, Tracey your wish is our command.
This time we worked with 27 year-five students, the classroom was full of eager students scissors and sellotape in hand raring to go.
The first question was, ‘do we have any students who accompanied us on our tree planting last season?’
At least 15 hands shot up with beaming smiles its testament to that a lovely morning planting flowering cherry tree amongst others in a large communal garden surrounded by flats and maisonettes near to St Matthew’s Church of England School where some of the children lived.
The workshop was run by Jo Gane, photographic practitioner and was funded by Matthew Murray Landscape Photographic Artist and Arts Council England and in collaboration with BTfL.
Jo’s specialist area of knowledge is the practice of early photographic processes and translating these difficult techniques into engaging hands-on workshop activities.
Matthew Murray is an award winning photographic artist working on an Arts Council of England project around the landscape of Arenig, North Wales. Matthew is working on an Arts Council of England project around the landscape of Arenig, North Wales.
As part of this project Matthew Murray developed an engagement programme working with artists, practitioners, charities and inner city schools, focusing on communities who may not have the opportunity to participate in these programmes in other circumstances.
Matthew Murray choose BTfL as the project he was interested in collaborating with because of our great environmental and community based work and we are very grateful for that.
The workshop started and the children listened intently to the zoom tutorial by Jo. Mrs. Pringle the class teacher busily rebounded from one student to the next helping them cut cardboard, stick tracing paper and watch their simplistic cardboard camera gradually came to life.
Working with a generation that has been completely immersed in communications technology and where phones and the internet at the forefront of learning, social interaction, entertainment and school and work. A homemade camera made from bits of craft is a million miles from anything the student had known before, but all the same it was fun, refreshing, creative and artistic.
Once the cameras had been made images quickly started to be captured through their homemade lenses.
There was a gasp of ‘wow!’ The children placed the camera in front of their faces and there was a sudden urge for all the students to turn their cameras upside down.
That’s because the image projected is upside down and works very much like the workings of the human eye.
Thankfully it was a sunny day so the sunlight highlighted white images particularly well.
We agreed that to capture images of beech trees, with their distinctive white bark would be particularly dramatic.
We know that the children will take their cameras home share the wonderful workings of their camera obscura’s with their family and friends and capture images of trees, nature, wildlife and autumn foliage.
We can’t wait to see the wonderful results of how year five at St Matthew’s Church of England school turned the world upside down and made it look captivating, enchanting and beautiful.