June 07 Year 8 Brick Making at the Magdalen Project

As part of our PSE/ Citizenship programme we have been studying sustainability with regard to building materials and techniques.

Links to PSE / Citizenship

Our introduction to the topic was delivered by Head of DT, Nic Wootton who showed the year group a fantastically diverse array of stunning photographs that demonstrated how varied building materials have been throughout history and from different areas in the world.

Djenné, Mali
Little Morton Hall
Ice Palaces

The following PSE session was spent looking at excerpts of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's television series River Cottage where local potter Tim Hurn was seen demonstrating how to throw Chicken bricks and also how his enormous wood fired kiln was used to fire the bricks. The second part of the session was used to show the students excerpts of the Grand Design series in which Ben built a house in the woods.

The year group then visited the Magdalen Environmental, education project in Chard to learn about organic vegetable production, compostable toilets, filtering water using reed beds, straw bale houses and sheds made of recycled materials. The students enjoyed cooking using a cobb brick oven and the highlight of the day making adobe bricks using the local clay dug out of the pit used to build the reed bed water filtering system. Unfortunately the summers inclement weather hit us hard, and torrential rain made the second day of the visit a very muddy affair with the brick making aspect more of a mud bath! Comments were heard likening the day to Glastonbury without music.

Undeterred we continued with the project back in school in the warm and dry, listening to Tim Hurn tell us about how they make bricks in India. It certainly looks far more accomplished than our muddy efforts.

The project is due to continue into year 9 during the Art lessons with Tim working with the students on making decorative bricks and tiles to construct a sculpture that will be placed next to the main entrance of the school, in pride of place for all to see, hopefully for many years to come.

D Wood. Director of Arts 27-7-07