02 February 2012
Described as “fabulous” and “dramatic”, Michael Pinsky’s ‘Intersection’, hidden away in the heart of St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School in Bristol, is composed of hundreds of the pupils’ hand-drawn crosses painstakingly and skilfully computer-manipulated by Pinsky to form a giant illuminated grid-structure, or contoured map, which continuously pulsates at the far end of the main entrance corridor.
The work takes as its starting point the shared time that pupils spend together at school – a key meeting point in their lives. Pinsky describes this period as a “crossroads”, the ‘cross’ being further referenced by the faith school setting.
For ‘Intersection’ each and every child at the 750 pupil-school was given a simple brief to respond immediately to the request to imagine and design a cross for a ‘Post It’ note-sized square.
Encased in polished stainless steel the grid, or map, of white crosses has been transposed onto sheets of glass and illuminated from behind. Like a kinetic painting, first the crosses are highlighted, then the spaces in between, with a reverential nod to the artists Malevich, who had a concept of white as the ‘colour’ of infinity, and Flavin, who investigated sculptural space through light.
From the early part of the twentieth century it was realised that art might have a special role in general education, both as practice, and as object of study: in each case introducing pupils to the idea of creative expression.
In the 1940s the School Prints movement championed by Herbert Read and Brenda Rawnsley brought original lithographs by Henry Moore, Picasso, Braque and others into British classrooms. Since then there have been other schemes to bring art into schools including Bristol City Council’s current, superb programme.
‘Intersection’ was commissioned by Bristol City Council as part of their city-wide programme for Building Schools for the Future. The commission was managed by Art and Sacred Places which specialises in exploring the relationship between art and spirituality. See www.artandsacredplaces.org and www.aprb.co.uk for more information.
‘Intersection’ may be viewed by prior arrangement with the school. Please ring St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School, during term time, on 0117 377 2050.
Listen to pupils and staff talking about ‘Intersection’ and the new school build at: http://www.cliftondiocese.com/faithful-art-at-st-bernadettes-school
Post by Angela Peagram, Project Director, Art and Sacred Places.
Information about the history of art in schools was provided by Prof. John Haldane of the University of St Andrews.
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