I worked with the National Trust’s learning officer at Tyntesfield (in conjunction with the North Somerset Find Your Talent initiative) to devise and deliver a workshop over 3 sessions at the house and estate. The participants were Year 6 children from Ashcombe Primary school, and GCSE Photography students from Westhaven special needs Secondary school who were to mentor the younger pupils. The older students came on their own for a first visit to see the house and gardens, learn about some of the history and take photographs of their own, but with our support they also planned how they would guide the younger pupils round the house and estate on the following visit and help them to use cameras to create a ‘portrait’ of Tyntesfield.
Through my own research on the house and gardens I came up with a number of scenarios where the older students could help the younger children imagine themselves in the role of someone who had lived or worked at Tyntesfield in the past – for example a gardener’s boy, a cook (there was a working cook at the house in the early 20thC who was over 80!) a visiting cousin, a 1920s magazine journalist, or a chauffeur. Armed with these characters the pupils were able to see this already extraordinary place in a different light that increased their observational skills.
I’d invited Andrew Eason, artist book maker, to come to the final session, and he worked with the older group to create some instant small books using thumbnail prints of the photographs they’d taken on their first visit. Meanwhile the teachers, NT staff and I helped the year 6 students sort, edit and arrange hundreds of prints of the photos they’d taken to create layout ideas for the artwork that was to be their portrait of Tyntesfield. I took their ideas and prints away and came up with the image you can see here – initially a 1200mm square physical montage of over 100 photographs , which was then photographed (quite a challenge) and reproduced same size as a digital print by the wonderfully helpful Carnival Graphics
This is the completed photo montage, the digital print is displayed in The Sawmill – the education centre at Tyntesfield.