Project – Four Seasons

The Four Seasons at the Churchill School Hawkinge

Another school in Kent is now able to display its own mosaic. Following on from the success of the Riverhead school mosaic, as described in the autumn 2033 Kent and Medway Newsletter, Martin Cheek has since completed and installed the Four Seasons mosaic on an outer wall of the Churchill School, a 4 – 11 primary school at Hawkinge.

Preparatory work started in the autumn term 2003 when the artist spent a week working in the school with the children. They discussed the changes that come about as the seasons evolve, when animals and plants undergo their own changes in behaviour to adapt to the developing seasons. Out of the dialogue came ideas which informed and inspired the design of the completed panels, and the illustrations by the children with their unique perception and interpretation were used to establish the context in which the four panels of the mosaic were to be cast. This process from discussion to completion took six months.

On Friday 5th March 2004 the four panels representing spring, summer, autumn and winter were installed on an outer wall to the right of the main entrance to the school. To the left of the entrance the windows are in yellow frames. By placing the mosaics which are of approximate size to the windows and framed in yellow tiles, a ‘trompe l’oeil’ effect is created as one approaches the school. The colours are fresh and vibrant and the impact is immediate and compelling.

Each panel is carefully designed to give depth, with a clearly defined foreground, middle distance and background. A carefully placed animal is to be found in the foreground of each panel, thus leading the viewer into the picture; a toad is used to effect in the spring panel, an otter in the summer, a pheasant in the autumn and a heron in the winter. Each panel has its own distinctive symbolic structure, registering the natural activity and rhythms of the seasons.

In spring two hares perform a dance on their hind legs; in summer swallows give us a ritual display of wheeling and circling around each other, while a lapwing drinks at the waters edge, and two squirrels scurry off into the distance; in autumn a green woodpecker picks insects from the bark of a tree, while three crows squabble in the branches above, and in winter a heron dominates the wintry scene with its two chicks while its mate and some mallards fly in the sky above. In addition, each panel has a tree inspired buy the children’s work. The lollipop trees in the summer panel are symbolic of a child’s painting of trees and the fir tree in the winter panel achieves a visual impact which contributes to the overall wintry effect.

The potency of these panels clearly demonstrates the artistic significance that Martin attaches to the theme and to his intuitive insight into a child’s perception. We never really move away from the visual interpretation of children as we look at these images, created for children by children, yet executed by means of adult skills based on methods and formulae that date back through the centuries.

This is without doubt a major work of art of which any school would be proud. The Churchill school is indeed fortunate.

If you would like to receive a CD containing images of the mosaic, please send a large SAE to: Martin Cheek Mosaics, 12A Westcliff Terrace Mansions, Pegwell Road, Ramsgate, Kent, CT11 0JD.

Leo Rule, June 2004

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