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Hellesdon pupils' window on green issues

PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:07 02 July 2010

Hellesdon High School stained glass window with students and artist Catherine Briggs.

Hellesdon High School stained glass window with students and artist Catherine Briggs.

Peter Walsh

Pupils at a school on the outskirts of the city are helping to disprove the myth that young people only care about themselves - by helping to produce a piece of artwork aimed at promoting debate about environmental issues.

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Pupils at a school on the outskirts of the city are helping to disprove the myth that young people only care about themselves - by helping to produce a piece of artwork aimed at promoting debate about environmental issues.

People visiting Hellesdon High School, in Middleton's Lane, Hellesdon, are now met with a stained glass work, called Fragile Planet, which sits in the reception area of the school.

The work is made up of glass collected from the beach at Yarmouth by then Year 7 pupils at the school, who are now in Year 8 and took part in the project headed by art teacher Stewart Life and Yarmouth-based artist and contemporary glass designer Catherine Briggs.

Mrs Briggs, who works from The Courtyard studio, Main Cross Road, Yarmouth, said: “It's about the fragile planet and it's based on a map of the world. It's supposed to be man-made items in grey encroaching on the fragile planet.

“Hellesdon High School is an eco-school and always looking for ways to promote environmental issues; the subject of the commission and the materials used were central to this theme.

“We ran an after school club once a week where eight pupils had the opportunity to come along and learn about stained glass work; they had input into the design and the manufacture of the piece. They also came over to Yarmouth to see my studio and have a walk on the beach to collect materials which were used in the commission.”

Mrs Briggs said the students were “enthusiastic” about the project and all picked up new skills involved in working with glass during the course of the sessions.

She added: “I think they really enjoyed learning about stained glass - it was a really enjoyable process.”

Mr Life said the group had been selected to take part in the project because they were gifted and talented individuals who could try and push the school forward in projects like this.

He added: “We did six sessions in after school workshops and then Catherine took the piece away to carry on working on it. We then took the students down to her studio in Yarmouth to see it being made.”

Mr Life said the artwork, which is a large window of two metres by 50 centimetres, in blues, greens, and beach glass, has already prompted debate at the school.

He said: “The feedback from the staff about the piece has been amazing. We don't very often get an opportunity to have an artist working on a specific piece for the school and don't have any other artist work at the high school. Comments from the people who work opposite have been very good.”

Eleanor Sendall, 13, said she enjoyed being part of the project, which has inspired her to take a different view about the planet.

She said: “It was a lot of fun. It was difficult to find glass on the beach. It has made me think about global warming.”

Elizabeth Griffiths, 12, said: “I thought it was really good as we got to do something we wouldn't normally do at school.”

Molly Dwyer, also 12, said the project was “really good fun”, but helped get the message across about how fragile the planet and the environment is.

Are you doing something to help Norwich's City of Culture 2013 bid? Call reporter Mary Hamilton on 01603 772418 or email mary.hamilton@archant.co.uk

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