Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Culture, creativity and cakes...

We had a lovely day yesterday at Greenside School's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. We had the pleasure of helping organise an event for the children to help them celebrate the 60th birthday of their  Erno Goldfinger school, their extraordinary Gordon Cullen mural and the official opening of their Learning Garden.
The Grade II* listed Goldfinger school was opened on 28th February 1952 by Dame Sybil Thorndyke, along with Erno Goldfinger himself. Yesterday all the children, plus the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham - Cllr Frances Stainton, Cllr Helen Binmore and invited guests assembled in the hall to watch an informative and entertaining film, made especially for the children by school governor Andrew Meeson, of twentieth century historian Alan Powers telling us the story of the Greenside mural and the architecture of the school. The school earns the star on its listing because of this exceptional mural by Gordon Cullen, influential artist and architectural illustrator, famed for his book The Concise Townscape.
Cullen was commissioned by Goldfinger to paint the mural in the entrance hall, as part of his child-focused vision, but it has been languishing unloved behind a red curtain for the last 20 years because it went ‘out of fashion'. The mural is now being brought back into the life of the school by a dedicated team made up of parents, staff, governors and members of the local community. The Friends of the Greenside Mural aim to "rehabilitate, restore, appreciate, protect and celebrate the Gordon Cullen Mural in the context of the Erno Goldfinger building to the benefit of the whole school community and enrich the Learning Environment." Or, you might say, simply to love it again. They have kicked off a campaign to raise funds to renovate the mural that is showing signs of 60 years of wear and tear.
Following the film in the hall everyone walked through the school, along the curved corridor, past the informative display and the mural itself, past the classrooms to the Learning Garden. The sun shone through onto the beautiful multi-sensory garden as the whole school assembled around the 'amphitheatre' - an outdoor classroom space in the garden. The Mayor announced the garden officially open and was assisted in cutting the ribbon by the two oldest and two youngest children in the school.
The multi-sensory Learning Garden provides delightful learning through a play area designed primarily for younger children whilst offering opportunities for children of all ages. The imaginative layout retains a tree planted by the Queen Mother in 1987 to mark the renaming from Westville Road School. The Early Years Foundation Stage have been raising funds to buy espalier fruit trees for the Learning Garden in order to have fruit to share with the rest of the school. The concept of a Learning Garden adheres very closely to Goldfinger's original plans that included outdoor class spaces, trees to shade the teachers, a cycle track and children's gardens.
Back in their classrooms every child had a floral cupcake waiting for them - carrying on the garden theme. They were made for us by local business Queen of Hearts, who we met through the Askew Business Network.
The next event on the mural team's calendar is an illustrated talk on Eric Ravilious: the Hammersmith Years by James Russell on Tuesday, 24th April in the school hall. There will also be an opportunity to see the film made for the children and to view the mural.