Sculptor Faith Bebbington is some sort of paper-mache ninja. Newspaper, tape and wire all yield to her experienced hands. She conjures up people, animals and lettering from the things other people throw away. She is dynamite in the classroom, too.
I was lucky to work with Faith for six days at my old school, acting as her assistant and chaperone. This was the most fantastic experience for the students and the best professional development I have had since leaving teacher training. I am buzzing with ideas.
Faith told me she wanted to be a sculptor from age six. The inspiration for her sculptures stems from being born with cerebral palsy. She has always been curious about how people and animals move: balance, the process of falling and capturing sequences of movement feature in her work.
After surviving what she was told was terminal cancer, she moved away from working with fibreglass and moved towards working with recycled materials. She explained to students that her favourite medium is plastic milk bottle cartons.
Whilst I was with Faith, the students explored the idea of the philosophy ‘Ubuntu’. This is an African term meaning “humanity”. It is often translated as “I am what I am because of who we all are”.
Faith gave the students an example of the school they were within. The school is what it is thanks to the builders who built the building, the craftsman who made the furniture, the cleaners, and the catering staff, the teachers and, of course, the pupils.
Faith taught the students (approx age 13) how to make a figure from newspaper, wire and tape. She then showed them how to add buttocks (yes, much snickering), thigh muscles, calves, feet, chest and back muscles, transforming the stickman into a sculpture.
This project was unusual because when one class left and another arrived, they just continued with the work on the table. Students went on to add colour by collaging tissue paper. The result was truly impressive.
Faith has worked with numerous schools. I was interested to see some of the work she had created, particularly where students had created an individual response.
Faith Bebbington is based in Liverpool. If you would like to contact her about working in your school, you can find her details on my Artists in Schools Database.
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