Mural design in Kolding

Denmark    2 | See all    Henrik Bak
Project Overview
The objective in this project was to come up with creative design at street level in the form of wall or facade paintings. At the same time the project was intended to give children basic knowledge about design processes.
The participating children were 12-14 years old. The project was part of an elective course offered at ”Billedskolen” – a design school for children in Kolding, which is part of the children’s culture house Nicolai for Children. Kristina Høier, design graduate and in charge of creative processes at Nicolai for Children was senior facilitator on the project with Laerke Bindslev co-working on the project as assistant teacher.
The children went through a series of creative processes ending up with design suggestions for specific facades in their home town Kolding, Denmark. In the spring 2011 Nicolai for Children plans to realize some of the projects depicted in the collages in full scale in the actual sites in downtown Kolding.
The project was very process- oriented as are all projects initiated in Nicolai for Children.
The first task given to the students was designed to challenge their usual way of thinking and doing things.
All of the children made a non-figurative collage out of bits and pieces of magazines – the task was to create a visual space that felt and looked good to the child creating it, but without making it look like anything recognizable. It turned out to be quite a challenge avoiding the use of recognizable elements in the pictures.
The next process was to look for negative space in the collage – to find shapes in between the forms, patches and blots that made up the collage.

The children went on to paint the shapes in their collages – still in a non-figurative way. As a dogma aiding to promote creativity, the children were given only three colors of paint; black, white and a single primary color of their own choice. They were allowed to mix all three colours.
Some of the children spent a long time experimenting with toning their colors in a wide variety of hues and came up with a  very extensive palette of colors in grey tones and colors scales.

Different public places in Kolding were then photographed – facades, high walls, empty street corners - and the photos were printed in black and white.  The children looked through the prints, found ”empty spots” e.g. empty looking facades or walls in nice shapes. They cut the chosen object out of the print and used the print with a hole in it – an empty void – as a search frame on top of their collage. With the print frame as a reference they found the most meaningful or intriguing part of their collage. This background was to be the background in the final picture.
Via transfer paper the photo print and collage was transferred onto large paper, approximately in a scale of 1:16.
The whole picture was painted up on cardboard. This gave  the children a valuable experience in working with different scales – they obtained insights in moving a project through different stages. In this instance from sketch to model.

The final challenge was to make the children relate to the physical location in which their design was to be displayed. They created a figurative top layer in their design that corresponded or communicated with the urban space in which it was to be situated. Some made very literal connections to the urban space they worked with as for example with a dinosaur bench created by a 12-year-old boy. ”This empty space looks really boring and people would benefit from having a place to sit around, talk and have some fun,” was the rationale behind the design.
Other children made more symbolic and in some cases very empathic choices of decorations as with the facade at an undertaker’s. A 12-year-old girl created a design with clouds and an angel while a 14-year-old girl created an imagery involving a flying bird and a rose evolving into an upward turning spiral. Or in the case of a boxing club where a young boy decided to decorate the facade with images reminiscent of Moscow and the former Soviet Union – giving the viewer connotations of ”action” and ”something really cool.”
As in the beginning of the project a range of techniques were used to make the children deviate from standard practice in their paintings. They were asked to draw the pictures blindfolded or with their left hand. And they got to play a lot with scale – making their drawings bigger than the frame or sizing them down and duplicating them within the frame to see the different effects of the same image depending on size alone.

The projects were processed digitally to give a view of what it would look like to have the projects realized in the urban space.
Prints of the digital images and the big cardboard models were displayed at Trapholt – a contemporary design museum in Kolding - as part of a large exhibition under the heading ”Facades” with children’s art and design in the fall of 2010.
The next step in the project would be to have the community to support at realization of some of the ideas in realin order to be able to see some work of the children in real on the walls of Kolding.

Written by Rikke Revsholm, Nicolai for Children

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Rikke Revsholm

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