Art and recycling come together in “Recycling the classroom” project

Happy children’s voices, bright colours and imaginative works of art can be heard and seen at the French Cultural Centre in Nicosia, as 10-year-old students of the French-Cypriot School put the final touches to their project, a project which brings together visual art and poetry with messages about recycling, reusing and the reduction of waste.

The childrens works will be presented at an event of art and poetry which is part of Cyprus Month of Francophonie entitled Recycling the Classroom at the French Cultural Centre.

Students are supervised, aided and supported by Mathieu, Olivier, Sonia, Alexandros and Samir, who speak to CNA about this experience and what they think children have learned from it.

Olivier: We are going to have to learn how to reuse the sources we extract from nature Replying to a question as to how important he thinks it is to teach children about recycling, Olivier Sax, who makes structures and crafts from recyclable materials, notes that it is important because it is the only way that we can get by in the future. These young people, he adds, have to be taught by someone that there is an issue, that we have understood from the mistakes of the previous generations.

Now, he says, we cannot afford not to be conscious about this issue. It is sticking out from nature wherever you go, there is rubbish all over the place and that is not pleasant, he notes, adding that that is the least of it because it is ending up in the air that we breathe, the food that we eat and the water we drink.

I am not very optimistic because I consider that it is too late already, he says, adding that at least it is better to do something like this and pass it on to the next generation because the TV is not going to tell them.

Now, Olivier points out, resources are going to be scarce, therefore we are going to have to learn how to reuse the ones that we have already extracted. That, he explains, is what we are trying to tell these kids. We are making sure that these kids, in a fun and creative way, make things from rubbish, he says.

Referring to the students, he says they absorb everything like sponges. They did papier macher, an easy, natural way to make modelling paste at home. They leaned how to fuse plastic bags together to make creative craft with it. They are discovering at the same time processes and they are given tools, he adds.

Here is what you can do with a little bit of fun, a little bit of time and a little bit of awareness, he notes.

Alexandros: We used the method of art and creativity We are a team of various artists, each one specialises in visual arts, art, recycling, poetry, Alexandros Ioannou Peletie says. He adds that we used these various arts together with the teacher at the French school and after two months of work, we finally put together this structure from cardboard and we let the children create freely on it.

According to Alexandros, it is important to cultivate the concept of recycling and what one can achieve. He adds that we used the method of art and creativity. I think, he continues, that it is ideal for the children to use their imagination and to see the rubbish as an opportunity and not just as a useless object.

Replying to a question he says that the difference we saw in the children, how they created, their dedication and how they understood the concept of recycling through art, I feel that it would be an ideal tool to be used by other schools as well.

Samir: Slam poetry which focuses on nature, recycling, Cyprus and France French slam poet Samir Seghir, who is in Cyprus from Lyons to take part in the project, has undertaken the task of helping the children work on the poems they have already prepared with their teacher and of teaching them reciting techniques.

Asked about slam poetry, he explains that it is poetry which is recited live. It could be your own poetry or the verses of someone else, he says. The movement of slam poetry, in which he has been active for 15 years, is widely known in France. Slam poetry, he adds, takes place in social places, such as bars, theatres, schools or youth centres.

Sonia, he says, referring to the teacher of the children, started working with the children on their poetry texts. I am here to show them how to recite them, how to declaim, how to make them come alive, to continue them, because some texts are very small, how to write a verse or a stanza, he adds.

The poems, he notes, will mainly focus on nature, recycling, Cyprus and France.

Sonia: The children became aware of a truly ecological message The students’ teacher, Sonia Boreau, explains that when she worked as an educator in France, she organised many such projects in cooperation with artists and museums.

I was in touch with Matthieu (Devavry). We had already collected all the rubbish of the classroom and we were pondering what to do with it, how to reuse it and to recycle it, she says. It was thus that the project started taking shape, she adds.

Replying to a question as to what the children have learned during this project, she notes that it was a programme which took place over several weeks and that the children were made aware of a truly ecological message.

Each of the participants had a speciality on recycling, which allowed us to have a complete programme, she points out, adding that in my view what students have comprehended is that we can reuse rubbish, we can make other useful objects or we can turn them into works of art.

The programme also promoted the idea of French citizenship, as well as of team work, she adds.

Mathieu: The children became aware and were happy I like very much to work with schools and students to create new things, visual artist Mathieu Devavry says.

Replying to a question about the project, he expresses the view that it was a great success because the children were made aware. We asked them to work on their own ideas and they were always ready to listen, he adds. And also, he continues, they were happy. In the end students said to me of the result of their efforts that it looks like a museum and they referred to their works of art not just their sketches.

The project was complete, since the team had people working on awareness, education, art and poetry, he adds. The poetry, he explains, will help them find the words to express their creations.

Asked about other messages he tried to convey to the children, he referred to the need to use tools and materials sparingly and not to waste them. Materials will last much longer and in that way less rubbish is produced, he says.

The report is in the context of the project Rethink: Reduce- Reuse � Recycle which is funded by the EU programme LIFE+ (project code: LIFE13 INF/CY/000910) of the EU. Coordinating Beneficiary: CyBC. Partners: Green Dot Cyprus, Department of Environment, Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, CNA, Fost Plus Belgium

Source: Cyprus News Agency