Supported Learning students have embraced nature at Lewisham College this term by taking part in an art installations project, Seasons Change, with the Friends of Brookmill Park and as part of the Lewisham Borough of Culture.
Seasons Change is a project developed and delivered by artist Cash Aspeek with Friends of Brookmill Park, which enabled three groups of learners from the Supported Learning department at Lewisham College to embrace nature in the park and learn new skills over four days, each one exploring a different season.
The project focused on Brookmill Park; a small linear park located between the two Lewisham College campuses. Brookmill has many interesting features, including a duck pond and the tidal Ravensbourne River, both full of varied insects, invertebrates, and birdlife, including kingfishers, herons, and egrets. It has an exceptional range of trees, some of which date back 300 years. Each session began with a tour of the park, observing particular birds, plants, and trees. The changes observed throughout the different seasons over the year were then documented and used to come up with artistic creations.
Sessions began last Autumn with the leaf masks display. During the Winter session, learners studied the remnants nature leaves and how this creates future life in some form or another. They made imaginary creatures from natural materials found in the park. For Spring, the focus was on birds and students created images of different species commonly seen in the park. The images are now being transferred to a special cloth, embroidered by a group of elders. The Summer project was a celebration of light creating Cyanotypes, or sun prints, from collections of plants and feathers.
Cash Aspeek entered two images of the leaf masks to the prestigious Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2022. One was chosen from amongst 20,000 other works and is now displayed in artist Grayson Perry’s Yellow Room.
Cash Aspeek, Artist and Artist Educator, said: “The Seasons Change project exceeded all my expectations. The students and staff at Lewisham College told me they thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, which was a lot of fun. Each session was varied in terms of the skills learned and the creations produced.
“The students chose their own favourite session to work on and they all explored nature and how places change with each passing season. It was a pleasure to work with the students at Lewisham College and it is exciting to see some of the work on display and the talents of students recognised by such a prestigious exhibition.”
Gerard Garvey, Principal at Lewisham College, said: "We prioritise creating a supportive environment for all our learners at Lewisham College. It has been wonderful to see the display of artwork that they have created as you enter Breakspears Building, and on display at Sainsbury’s in Forest Hill. It brings the College a huge sense of pride for us to be able to recognise and celebrate the excellent work of the learners on the Supported Learning programmes.”
Cash Aspeek also appeared on BBC 2’s Joe Lycett: Summer Exhibitionist, with Jamie Hodges, a former student at Lewisham College. You can see the full episode, which features Cash and Jamie on BBC iPlayer here: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0019ml5.
Seasons Change was funded by Lewisham Borough of Culture and Lewisham College and supported in kind by Friends of Brookmill Park.
Leaf masks are on display in Sainsbury’s window, London Road, Forest Hill, as part of the London Borough of Culture programme.
To learn more about the Supported Learning programmes offered at Lewisham College and the opportunities available to students, visit lewisham.ac.uk/supported-learning.