• tinascahill


UNDEREARTH Connecting with nature through art and technology

Words from the intro section of the project website:

"UnderEarth is a digital environmentally focused project exploring what happens beneath the ground as spring approaches. Through a series of interactive workshops, Lead Artist, Katt Grover and Mentee Artist, Tina Scahill explore creative coding and digital art with two groups of pupils from primary schools in Andover, Hampshire.

Using their knowledge of life underground, gained from award-winning charity, Andover Trees United, the groups are creating immersive fantasy ecologies, transforming traditional storytelling, and using art as eco-activism.

​The final exhibition will take place in May 2022 and will be open to the public for a limited time. A digital version of the exhibition will be available online.

The project will end in an immersive interactive exhibition where visitors will be transported through their senses. See crowds of coded creepy crawlies, listen to sleepy seeds emerge from dormancy and experience art that springs to life with augmented reality. Featuring work created by Year 4 students from two local primary schools."

Working out our place.

The project was coordinated by Katt Gover, lead artist, her years being a training provider made the program very organised. I was employed as a Mentee supporting her from the Test Valley Creative commission, funded by the Arts Council England national lottery project grants. The 10 week project aims were to inspire high quality digital art to andover. Teach coding skills to young people. Learn about our environment and an appreciation of it. and the mentee to devote skills and knowledge in delivering artist in residence programmes.

Week 1

Meeting the 24 children at harmony woods was very exciting. They were enthusiastic and so pleased to be doing something different.

Wendy Davis and Alex Marshall from Andover Trees United were fabulous hosts for our exploration morning. Wendy (Trustee and Operations manager for schools) showed us the Iron Age ditch spoke about the trees and the earth, the habitats and the rare birds coming back to nest. Alex a zoologist - gave us a practical and scientific approach to the discovery session. The children used pouters and a selection of bug hunting and bug catching equipment. We looked in the ground in the grass and under wood piles and found all the items from our big bingo challenge!

The children really enjoyed the hands on nature of the discovery day. They were interested to hear what we would be doing next and waved us goodbye very fresher by what we had heard and by what they had done.

Week 2

We met the children in their schools school one in the morning and school two in the afternoon. It is a very busy and full on day.

Katt the lead artist wanted to gather as much material From the children as possible so it give us the time to put all the work together. The vision of interactive posters a soundscape, AR art posters, animation, and stop motion all will come together in the 12 week project.

The feedback from the children and staff was encouraging and let me have an insight into how they felt about the project.

One child from school one told me that they were so excited that they had woken up at 6am as they couldn’t wait to start their day.

The headteacher from school one said that having the opportunity to teach the staff and children new technologies and ways of thinking was an enhancement to the education. Most of all after this session one school all the children agreed that they had had fun creating pictures with charcoal, creating backgrounds with sticking paper and texture to the roll of paper and that they had considered their trip to the woods a great focal point for their work.

Wendy and Headteacher School One

Alex the ecologist

In school one before the session we were able to visit their own woodland area to familiarise themselves With the earth and the experience at harmony woods.

The video below is of a child making music with the flint they found... a pure moment of joy and exploration.

children looking at nature and discovering what lives under earth
gallery of the Harmonys woods trip and exploration of the site

Week 3

The schools workshops were performed on the one day the morning was school one and the afternoon was school two.

We worked through the UNDEREARTH Workbook using the idea and notes we had made in the Field Journal. The Sessions made us think about the subterranean world, sketches of the character design of a chosen bug or creature - giving them attributes that would allow us to tell their story.

Friendly faces of the UNDEREARTH project
David Dixon CAS Director Katt Grover Artist Tina Scahill Mentee

As a creative writer Katt spoke of Plot development and how that creates a successful story. Exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.

We followed this with animation basics in scratch - free software available in most schools. The children were engaged with both the traditional art and the technology art form equally.

Week 4

Characterisation and developing animation thoughts, at school one became a very physical thing, the children wanted to act out their character story in a physical sense, we were lucky enough to have the hall space to allow them to do this. I thought this element of natural learning was amazing, children took a concept and through play and opens let themselves go.

We took the characters they had created the week before and got them all to create their own stop motion animation of their story, they worked in pairs or threes to come up with ideas.

making a movie with animation
Stop motion animation with School one

Week 5

This week was coding, using Scratch to animate the digital characters, getting them to move in interesting ways, they also added sound which they felt was important too.

Week 6

All the materials had been made for the show, we could now show the pupils AR and we gave them an introduction using plasticine modelling.

Using AR scanner
Using AR to create a 3D scan of a character

Creatures made by School one

3D model interacting with real life
A child being shown the 3D model interacting with real life

In this final in school session, the children presented their work to their year groups at both schools. The children were really proud of the work they had made and answered questions on how they did things and what did they enjoy most.

The technology usage at school one allowed us to show the year group the AR models in action. School two had the bare minimum of technology and that meant we could not share the AR experience more widely.

All of the children were bursting with pride with what they had achieved, the direct feedback from he children was that they did want the session to end they wanted to learn more, they also wanted to miss lunch break to carry on!

Throughout the 6 weeks in School, the children were engaged, were able to think and problem solve, and to imagine new worlds, create new stories and let their imagination run wild!

The project work carried on for Katt and Myself as she curated the show at the CAS gallery... read my next post for the UNDEREARTH Finale.

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