Children at The Downs School in Wraxall, near Bristol, are saying ‘thanks a bunch’ to Somerset artist for revamping their dining hall
Artist Natasha Clutterbuck has painted giant murals on the walls depicting organic produce in all its glory including carrots, pumpkins, courgettes and tomatoes. The idea is to encourage the pupils to celebrate seasonal foods and see them as a natural part of a healthy lifestyle.
Natasha drew the pictures with willow charcoal and coloured them with natural pigments including Mendip red iron ore and ochres. The children, aged four to 13, have enjoyed seeing the works come to life on such a large scale.
“It is really important in this digital age to stay connected to reality and to stay in touch with the earth…” artist Natasha Clutterbuck
“It has generated a lot of excitement,” said Natasha. “I based the drawings on some interesting heritage varieties of vegetables, such as Tigerella tomatoes, and that has made it real. It is very inspiring for them.”
Headmaster Marcus Gunn commissioned the work after Natasha had been in to the school to work with some of the oldest pupils, who had been studying her vibrant, earthy approach to art. The children enjoyed experimenting with observational drawing and using natural materials.
“There was earth on the vegetables and we ended up using the mud in the paintings. It took on a life of its own,” adds Natasha. “It is really important in this digital age to stay connected to reality and to stay in touch with the earth.”
Natasha included unusual heritage vegetables in the mural
Mr Gunn is delighted with the finished murals and believes the project will help the school’s efforts to ensure a holistic approach to healthy eating to take root. The new catering company at The Downs is reinforcing this by preparing all food on site from high quality, locally sourced fresh ingredients and creating varied menus all checked by a nutritionist. “The children have really embraced this change,” he said. “The queue for second helpings is becoming longer and longer.”
So what do the pupils think of their own version of the great big enormous turnip? “The paintings are amazing. I like the ginormous pumpkins,” says Benji. Florence loves “all of the pictures,” adding “we have nice food here.” But despite the veg is best message, Aashiv is still thinker of sweeter things: “I think the best ones are the carrots. They remind me of carrot cake.”