To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, an interactive and collaborative artwork has been launched made up of digital and hand drawn memes created by school students to represent their feelings during the pandemic.
Created by Stuart Batchelor for Culture Mile and the City of London Family of Schools and produced by Aphra Shemza from Art in Flux, #Mood combines unique digital and hand drawn artworks by students from the schools with Stuart’s bespoke universe and interactive graphics.
Inspired by an idea from Ella James (Head of Faculty, Art Design Technology - City of London Academy Highbury Grove), the students took inspiration from artists such as Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger to create memes with a hashtag describing how they have been feeling at this pivotal moment in history.
#Mood maps the viewer using the webcam from their computer or phone and places the students’ memes across their face like pixels. This allows you to move around and interact with the works like a digital mirror putting you at the centre of the artwork and highlighting our connection to one another throughout lockdown. To view the work, visit the top of this page using your computer, tablet or mobile (these devices are supported from 2016 onwards). For the optimum viewing experience, use a desktop computer with a highspeed internet connection. To explore the work further, click on the thumbnail images to expand and navigate between the student’s original artworks.
Stuart designed the piece in collaboration with two groups of students, from both primary and secondary schools who attended an online workshop. During the workshops the students learnt about what it is like to be a professional media artist and created their own digital drawings of the ‘memeverse’ (universe made of memes as seen in the work’s background) which later informed the final design.
"As an artist, the opportunity to work with and teach the students about software art was something I was really excited about. The #Mood project gave students an outlet to create during the pandemic and highlighted the importance of art adapting to global circumstances. It turned something isolating into a positive, social and creative experience. I loved the passion and enthusiasm of the student's artworks and look forward to seeing their work in the final piece."
Stuart Batchelor, Artist
“At Art in Flux we connect media artists with opportunities for creating new work. We create sophisticated and accessible digital art experiences for communities and professionals alike. Working on the #Mood project with our artist Stuart Batchelor, we are thrilled to have produced a new interactive artwork that embodies collective creativity and hope in this difficult period.”
Aphra Shemza, Producer & Director (Art in Flux)
The following City of London schools took part in this project:
"Giving the students a chance to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year was of great value to them and the process of thinking about their feelings and then representing these visually was a therapeutic process for them to go through."
Eleanor Perkins, Head of Careers and Higher Education, Italian and Art Teacher, CLSG
"As a whole school project, we used #Mood combined with PSHE to talk about emotions, especially drawing upon our feelings during our time spent at home and what it felt like to return to school."
Art and Culture Lead/Year 1 Class Teacher, Galleywall
"We felt it was important children developed the vocabulary to be able to share and understand their emotions at this time, as well as having the opportunity to explore this creatively…The children’s work speaks volumes about the range of emotions they have been through during the pandemic, and it really is a testament to how resilient they have been"
Art Co-ordinator, Redriff
"Each class approached the portraits in their own style with one class using wire, manipulating it to create individual portraits and another inspired by Roy Lichtenstein…The children listened carefully to one another in class discussions about lockdown, allowing them opportunities to empathise with each other. Creating individual portraits, they were able to represent and express themselves."
Year 1 Class Teacher & Assistant Head Teacher, CoLPAI
“The focus was on expressing their mental wellbeing, and giving students a window of time to reflect on their emotions, experiences and to begin to make sense of the last year. All Key Stage 3 students were set a series of digital tasks to improve their digital literacy, but also to allow them a creative and flexible platform outside of a well-resourced classroom.”
2IC Art, Design and Technology, CoLAI
“I was happy and bored at the same time, I made my eyes look bored and made the edges of my mouth smile. I was bored when I finished my work and had nothing to do.”
Year 3 student, Redriff
“I was feeling happy during lockdown as I didn’t have to go anywhere and could play or watch T.V. whenever. I used golden paper for the hair to show my happiness shine. I did miss school in lockdown.”
Year 3 student, Redriff
"I was behind the window, behind the curtains in my picture. I chose strong because it was hard times in lockdown, lots of people were suffering. I thought it was a time to be strong."
"I used some colours for being unhappy - blue, purple, orange. I was unhappy because I didn't go to school. I like going to study and having fun with my friends at playtime."
"Making memes meant that we could combine comedy with how we felt, it was easier to communicate with humour. I chose #Mondayvibes as all the days blurred into one, and Monday was the start of another week of the same.”
Student, CoLA Highbury Grove
The interactive artwork is accompanied by a short film, featuring teachers talking about the project and students discussing their artworks. The film was made in collaboration with participating schools and edited by Faith Austin (Barbican).