A feature by Wendy Pike
Lest We Forget. The familiar message of remembrance emblazoned on the grassy bank outside Zinc Arts Centre, spelled out in bright red, hand-made poppies, for Armistice Day. The art installation was created by pupils from four local primary schools in a series of workshops designed and delivered by Zinc.
“It was about getting the community involved, particularly the young people of Ongar and giving them a sense of community.
“We hope when the children see the final installation they can be proud to say ‘I was part of that,’” said Fran George, Zinc Arts Project Worker.
The workshops dovetailed neatly with the Bombs, Battles and Blitz topic studied in school recently by Mrs Dodd’s Larch Class of Year Sixes from Chipping Ongar Primary School.
“We’ve been learning about World War II in the last six weeks, so to be able to link the children’s learning with their local community is a really good idea.
“They’re really enthusiastic about art and history so the two together is wonderful for us. And it’s bringing home some of the learning they’ve already done as well. It’s been a memorable experience for them,” said class teacher Mrs Liz Dodd.
Eleanor Ryan, aged 10, from Larch class said: “We’re making poppies for Remembrance Day and we’re remembering the soldiers that fought for us.
“We got plastic bottles and cut them into wavy poppy shapes and painted them red and put black in the middle.”
Fellow classmate Charlie Portman-Olive said: “I really enjoyed making the poppies and we all got stuck in on that.
“We’re doing this to remember the soldiers who died in the war. It’s important to remember them because they fought and died for us to have a better life in the future.”
The project was led by Zinc’s Yasmine Lynch. As well as hands-on cutting and painting poppy making, the children enjoyed a dramatic, sensory prelude to the film they watched about the Blitz in the theatre.
“We wanted to give them a ‘real’ World War II Blitz experience. In the theatre, we flashed the lights on and off and had an air raid siren going off, to give them an experience of what it might have been like at the time,” added Zinc’s Fran George.
Pupils from High Ongar, Ongar and Moreton primary schools also took part in the series of Remembrance workshops, held at Zinc Arts Centre in the week leading up to 11th November.
Participating schools also got the opportunity to take part in an interactive exhibition about the history of Great Stony School from 1903 – 1999. Pupils used a variety of resources and artefacts to research facts for a fun quiz.
“Activities like this and being able to look at all the wonderful resources there are here at Zinc, photographs, texts and practical activities that have been put out, really helps the children to learn,” added teacher Mrs Dodd.
The poppy has been a symbol of remembrance and hope, since the First World War. Delicate yet resilient bright red Flanders poppies grew in drifts in the midst of WWI battle-scarred fields in Western Europe and inspired Lt Col John McCrae to write his famous poem In Flanders Fields.