We are a group of 14 high school students who had the opportunity to meet Helen Walbey, managing director of Wales’ only motorbike and scooter salvage yard. Together, with support from our Design and Technology teachers, our Art teacher, our head of year and our inclusion officer, we are creating our very own junk-art ‘relationships tree’. This is a living sculpture that we hope other young people can add to over the years with their messages of what makes a positive relationship.
THIS IS OUR STORY SO FAR…
1: What makes a good relationship?
We mind-mapped all the different, positive relationships we enjoyed: boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, family, pets, or special places and objects.
2: Spinning relationship-webs
We picked our favourite relationship (e.g. our dog, or nan). We used this to complete an adapted version of BISH.COM’s relationships graph. Choosing and ranking things that make our relationship a good one, we joined the dots to make a relationship-web.
3: Inventing micro scrap sculptures
Inspired by junk-artists and a small pile of scrap materials, in 10 minutes we created our own mini-sculptures.
4: Visiting the scrap-yard and sourcing our materials
Notebooks in hand, we took a mini-bus to Helen’s scrap-yard. The materials gave us plenty of ideas. We made a list of everything we thought we might need. Tyres, wing mirrors, brakes, coloured cables, and indicator lights were a popular choice.
Back in the classroom, inspired by Karen Cusolito’s ‘Dandilion’ (2010) and the words from our relationship-webs, we decided to create a living sculpture that could be personalized and added to by other young people over the years.
5: Drilling, sawing, laser- cutting, bolting
We had a lot of fun learning new skills to make our relationship tyre tree.
We used the hand drill and lathe to make the wooden base and an angle-grinder and hand-saw to cut the tyres. The laser-cutter helped us score our words onto slate tiles about what makes a positive relationship. We will hang these on our tyre tree using coloured electrical wires.
Along the way we created our R&R project logo from scrap, and a heart made out of chains and wing mirrors. Each mirror reflects someone or something special in our lives.
Our relationship tree
We got special permission to place our living sculpture at the threshold of where the school entrance meets the local community. When we are finished, we hope that you will be able to see the wing mirrors shimmer in the sunlight from far and wide.
Our dream is that the tree will be a symbol of how important our relationships are and can be for us and our community.
Along the way, we shared our story on display boards in the canteen food hall, and on posters in the DTC classroom.
Click here for more ideas and resources on how visual art can raise awareness and create change.