Schoolchildren exhibit new 'medieval' church art

The event at St Thomas' Church in Thurlbear, Somerset, in July marked the end of a special five-month project in collaboration with The Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk.

28 Year 5 pupils took part in the project, with the aim of re-imagining and recreating the intricate artworks that would have decorated the inside of St Thomas’ before the reformation, when a lot of church art was destroyed.

Class Teacher Jane Marshall explained: “The children were given the challenge of discovering how the inside of this ancient Norman church was once decorated.

“After measuring, researching, planning, exploring religious stories and historic artworks and developing their skills they set to design their own ‘medieval’ church art. We are immensely proud of their success.”

Each pupil created a new artwork using different techniques and skills, inspired by the church and their research into the history of religious art.

The exhibition took place for a week at the end of July and was visited by every class in the school as well as parents and families, local residents and visitors to the area.

 Rowena Riley, Heritage Learning Officer at The Churches Conservation Trust, who masterminded the project, said: “It’s vital that children have the chance to be set a challenge, get into a mess and have to find their own solutions. A historic church is a great place to do this, as every community has one and the buildings hold fantastic opportunities to learn about history, science, maths, music and art.”

Participant Katie Higham, age 10, said: “My favourite part of the project was learning about my portrait subject, St Barbara. Her story was inspirational.”

 Amy Moakes, also age 10, added: “I was inspired to make a stained glass window by a beautiful picture of St Thomas a Becket. All the blood and gory detail inspired me; it was difficult but I enjoy a challenge! The finished result was amazing.”

Congratulations to Rowena and all the pupils at Thurlbear school for such a wonderful event!