Students' art project shows how young people faced a pandemic

Sidmouth College public art

An art project by 60 students from Sidmouth College is revealed to the public. Pictured, from the left, are town council chairman Ian Barlow, SCCH development director Louise Cole, artistic director Coco Hodgkinson and artist David Shrigley - Credit: SCCH

An innovative art project featuring self-portraits by 60 students from Sidmouth College has been installed in the town - reflecting young people's responses to life during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub has been working in collaboration with artist David Shrigley OBE and students at the college from the beginning of the term with the aim of transforming an unloved wall overlooking the car park at Port Royal into a visual public gallery space.
Louise Cole, Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub development director, told the Sidmouth Herald: “Each portrait is an expression of individual identity, capturing thoughts and feelings which reflect the everyday and the not so everyday of life during Covid. 
“Collectively, the artwork reflects different outlooks of young people in Sidmouth; humorous, fleeting, whimsical, random, sad, happy and reflective.”
Louise added: “This piece is a narrative of its time, gives voice to our young people, respects difference and is a reminder that creative activities can help us to share how we are feeling.”
The students, who are aged 11 to 14 years old, each drew a black and white line drawing of themselves during their art lessons at the college, drawing upon guidance offered via a video tutorial from David.
Louise said: “We used simple line drawing as the medium, encouraging all the students to have fun and to build confidence in their creativity. Working with the students to explore identity and responses to lockdowns, virtual home-school, more time with family and less with friends, facing anxieties and discovery of great resilience was a privilege and we thank them all for their openness.”
Last year, Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub put in a bid to Sidmouth Town Council to take over responsibility for the wall so they could curate it as a public art space. A funding proposal was put forward in order to pay for the initiative and this was successful during lockdown.
Mrs Jen Carr, head of art and assistant principal, said: “Sidmouth college students have enjoyed creating work taking inspiration from artist David Shrigley. 
“The portraits students made were selected by David to create the final composition for the billboard as part of the wall space project. 
“Students created portraits in their art lessons using a continuous line technique, inspired by themes of identity and experiences during lockdown.
“During the pandemic many of us have turned to creative subjects for sanctuary and our students are no different. 
“Sidmouth College art department continues to enjoy working on community projects such as this and our students are very lucky to have the opportunity to have their work showcased on this scale.”
The college students’ artwork will be on show for three months before the space changes to accommodate another theme, giving different groups and artists a platform for their work at this new public gallery.