Totem Poles

Garfield Primary School, London N11

The totem poles at Garfield School were part of a bigger project involving all the children. Altogether four totem poles were made. The children did research and supplied sketches and printed out photographs they had found on the internet. Different surface decoration techniques were used. Some were painted with vitreous slips and patterns scratched in the surface. Stencils were used to create patterns. A group of children visited the workshops and had the opportunity to paint directly on to bisque fired sections with under glazes and oxides. They also got to see the kiln and see it being packed with their work.
All the pieces were set in different parts of the school. Two can be seen on a grassed section as you enter the school and the other two are next to each other in the playground.

Rhodes Avenue Primary School, London

The Totem Pole at Rhodes Avenue Primary School measures eight feet in height and was made by children as part of Big Art Week. Initially groups of children worked on rolling coils of clay and building them into cylindrical shapes. Then the surfaces were smoothed before being moulded and built into the shapes of animals and creatures.The top section was based upon a thunder bird and built to sit neatly on the next piece. This second section was designed to take a pair of wings which were painted to following a North American design. The next section used images of a face with plants streaming from the mouth, eyes and nostrils. A mouse and birds play in his beard and his head shrouded in bark textured mantle – the Green Man. The bottom two pieces had more depictions of animals from traditional totem poles. After firing a hole two feet deep was dug. There was a foundation piece placed into the ground and filled with concrete. Iron rods were hammered in to give more of an anchor. Each section was added the same way and the head formed a cap. When set the joints were pointed with a mortar.