ArtScapers were delighted to work with Cambridge Youth Opera, co-creating a ‘Forest of Imagination’ for their new production of Hansel and Gretel. Artist Caroline Wendling worked with two classes of 8/9 year olds from Girton Primary School and Mayfield Primary School during February and March thinking about forests and fear and freedom. They spent time in the grounds of Girton College and Murray Edwards College as part of their research, as well as worked together in the Storey’s Field Centre. The children were introduced to some of the extraordinary New Hall Art Collection at Murray Edwards College.
Speaking about the project, Jo Cobb, Head Gardener at Murray Edwards College, said: “This will be the first time we’ve welcomed primary school aged children to the College and I’m really intrigued as to how it will spark their imaginations. This project is such an exciting one for the College to be involved with and I hope they will enjoy exploring all the sights, smells and textures the garden has to offer.”
Performances of the opera were postponed due to COVID but artists Caroline Wendling and Sally Todd are putting together a film to celebrate the work of the children during the project.
ArtScapers is the education programme for Eddington, a new area of Cambridge. Begun in 2016, it has worked with children and their communities in innovative ways, including professional development days, resources, events, exhibitions and an interactive website. The creation of the forest is the first commission of this sort for ArtScapers and CYO and is an exciting development for how children’s creativity can be celebrated and shared as widely as possible. It was inspired by a short film made by CCI of a creative residency by the whole of Mayfield Primary School in Storey’s Field Centre. The space was transformed by enormous paper sculptures, in response to the work of Cambridge scientist Hertha Marks Ayrton and artist Yelena Popova.
Many thanks to Harriet Loffler (New Hall Art Collection), Jo Cobb (Head Gardener at Murray Edwards College), Steve Whiting (Head Groundsman at Girton College), Jake Ziegler (Sound Artist), Wysing Arts Centre and Gladys Jones (CCI volunteer) for their brilliant support.
This project is made possible by the support of the North West Cambridge Development and the Girton Town Charity.