London artist brings ‘imagination machine’ to Tany’s Dell Primary School

EARLIER this year a Children’s Library Design Competition was organised by arts company High Stile Projects and the 9 libraries in Harlow & Uttlesford as part of the “Invitation to Play” programme.

The winner was 7 year old Marie from Tany’s Dell Primary School. Her inventive characterful designs for Harlow Central Library impressed the two judges, artists Tom Downing & Ali Atkins.

Marie with her winning design, the imagination machine and Tom Downing

Marie’s prize was a visit to her school by London based artist, Tom Downing. This took place towards the end of the summer term. Tom had been inspired by Marie’s idea of creating a Story Making Machine. He built a special “Imagination Machine” out of cardboard and he took this into Tany’s Dell Primary School to show to Marie and her year group.

The children had all been working on an Under The Sea topic. They created wonderful drawings of Mark Hall Library under the sea. They fed these into the Imagination Machine and, as if by magic, out came new story characters for the children to write their own stories of their “Journey to the Library Under The Sea”.

Deputy Head Teacher Fern Middleton said: “It really was an amazing experience for the children; Tom was brilliant with them.”

Families visiting Mark Hall Library will now by able to see a new display featuring Marie’s winning designs, drawings and stories created by her classmates. The stories are displayed in the Dolls House Library made by Tom Downing. This model features architectural elements of all 9 libraries in Harlow & Uttlesford. It was made as part of the Invitation to Play programme supported by lottery funds from Arts Council England and Essex County Council.

Catherine Mummery, Director of High Stile Projects said: “The Design Competition showed how much children see their local libraries as amazing spaces full of creative possibilities. It is lovely to know that children visiting Mark Hall Library over the summer as part of the Summer Reading Challenge will be able to read short stories by Tany’s Dell pupils and see their fabulous drawings. The Invitation to Play programme was wonderful collaborative project with the library staff, local schools, community groups and artists. It was created to highlight the vital role our libraries have as community learning spaces for everyone.”

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