Rivers of the World is an international art and education project delivered in partnership with the British Council.
The two-year programme involves the pupils learning about their local river in the first year, learning about a river in another country in the second. The project encourages young people to explore and reflect on local and global issues, giving them the experience to build the skills they need for life and work in a global society.
Working with artists and creative trained by Rivers of the World lead artist Shona Watt, pupils learn and gather ideas that are channelled creatively into drawings, paintings, photographs and other visual media. These are transformed into a collection of large-scale works of art. The artworks are then curated and exhibited in galleries, along the River Thames walkway, schools across the UK and around the world in partner countries.
Transported supported the project taking place in Boston and for the project we commissioned local artist Emily Cartwright.
Emily worked with local schools; Boston High, Boston Grammar, Haven High, Thomas Cowley, William Lovell and Giles Academy.
They each did a day and a half art workshop based around a starting point that was allocated to them – River Culture, River City, Polluted River, River of Life, Working River and Resourceful River. Broadly the students looked into themes such as trade, folk tales, music and literature connected with the River Witham, Boston and Lincolnshire. We used techniques such as printmaking, paper cutting and collage to make the final artworks. The
Schools were paired with a partner school in Nepal who did the same project with a visiting artist.
“The strengths of the programme are the opportunity to work with a true artist as well as bringing inspiration to the teachers. It is refreshing to have a form of CPD which is practical and specifically relevant to art teaching. The workshops have been fantastic and very enjoyable.”
– Lynsay Volley, teacher, Boston High School.
“I am very pleased with the final artwork. I loved using new materials. It was an amazing opportunity.”
– Hannah, pupil, Giles Academy
“I loved doing this as it gave me a chance to share my ideas. By doing something different it gave me a whole new perspective on art. I feel 100% more in touch with my area and I feel ever so proud of this opportunity.”
– Lily-May, pupil, Thomas Cowley High School.
From January 2022, Emily continued work in some of the Boston Schools and Sleaford schools (Boston High, Boston Grammar, Kesteven and Sleaford High, Thomas Cowley, William Lovell and Giles Academy) making artwork along the theme of ‘River of Hope’, the environment and climate change, and all the artworks were inspired by Nepal in some way.
The ‘River of Hope’ flags were in the Jubilee Pageant procession and the digital artworks are also being displayed on the large public screens on Oxford Street on the week of the celebrations, putting Boston youngsters and their artworks at the centre of the nation’s celebration of the Queens Jubilee!
Emily Cartwright commented
‘The focus on this year’s art workshops was for students to learn about the river of their partner city, the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal. We looked through an environmental lens at the issues that affect the Bagmati River and the similarities there might be with the issues we face here in Boston.
We were also influenced by the iconic culture of Nepal, with each school focusing on a specific aspect that paired with the environmental theme.
The students involved in the project worked hard to create their artwork and it was such a buzz to see the flags coming down The Mall during the pageant, surrounded by fantastic artwork from other schools! The digital display on Oxford Street also gave people to chance to see all the intricate detail that had gone into each piece. I’m so proud of all the students involved and that we all got to be part of this prestigious event.’
The flags were displayed in the ‘River of Hope’ exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich from September 2022 to January 2023, alongside other magnificent artwork created by young people from around the world who also participated in the programme. The work reflects on their hopes and aspirations for the planet.
To keep up to date with the project, visit The Art of Emily Facebook page.