Students from Walworth have been taking part in art activities relating to The Roots Story with artists at Art in the Park studios. Initially they listened to some of the interviews that had been recorded and we discussed these and whether the students and their families had any particular anecdotes about herbal tonics and remedies. Whilst from a variety of cultures, many of the students had used Aloe Vera for their skin, either raw or in lotions and had also enjoyed Aloe Vera drinks.

Students from Walworth Academy

We looked at images of the forms of the plants that had come up most frequently in interviews eg Aloe Vera, Sarsparilla, Banana Leaf and Cerassie and also cross-sections and microscopic details of these plants, which gave a different perspective and interesting textures. From these images the students began to draw designs, which would be the starting point of their work on metal.



From their drawn designs they made embossed copper artworks in thin copper sheet, to prepare them for working in much thicker, heavier copper later on in the project.

The final artwork that the students are creating for the exhibition was discussed by the group. The students decided that using the Aloe Vera plant as inspiration was most appropriate, as it was the one that they had most personal experience of and interest in. It was also one that many of the interviewees mentioned. Thus, the final artwork will be in etched and embossed copper in the relief form of a very large Aloe Vera plant! The students worked together to create a large template of an Aloe Vera plant.

Working on Design

The students started work on the final artwork, referring to their initial designs on form and the microscopic textures. Their first pieces were made with etching onto thicker copper sheet in the form of Aloe Vera leaves. This process involves painting a resist varnish onto the copper then scratching the designs into the varnish with special tools. The finished pieces are then put into ferric chloride, with the resulting designs etched permanently into the surface.



During the Easter Holidays we ran a special session for the students, where they could come and create personalised t-shirts; silk-screen-printing their own designs (based on the plants) onto them. They students created lovely designs to wear.

Screen Printing

Finished T-Shirts

Close Up of Print

The next phase of the artwork is creating heavily textured, embossed copper, on thick sheets, in the form of Aloe Vera leaves. These will go with the etched leaves. The students have to work outside, as they have to use heating on the copper and heavy tools such as hammers and punches, which make too much noise inside the studio. They also have to wear cumbersome but essential safety equipment such as goggles and gloves. They have really enjoyed this part of the project; bashing metal outside!

Banging Metal Outside!

Metal Aloe Leaf

Close Up of Metal Work

The final part of the project will be to put the artwork together for hanging.