7th December 2017:

An excavation undertaken by OA East has provided inspiration for a creative cross-curriculum project for students at St Matthew's Primary School in Cambridge.

In 2012, OA East carried out an excavation at St Matthew’s Primary School in Cambridge after human remains were discovered during the construction of new school buildings. The Baptist cemetery found, in use for a narrow period of time in the 1830s, gives a remarkable picture of non-conformists in the rapidly growing and rapidly industrialising city of Cambridge at this time.

During the planning of the new buildings, 30 Bird worked with the architects Public Works to involve students at the school in designing outdoor installations as part of the school’s redevelopment to encourage creative play and provide a backdrop for participatory art.

Now in 2017, 30 Bird has teamed with OA East, Access Archaeology the English Pocket Opera Company and staff and governors of St Matthew’s School to collaborate on a project prompting the students to creatively explore, imagine and reflect on their sense of place today and how it might have differed for people in the past. The project has been funded by a Cambridgeshire Culture Grant from Cambridge City Council.

OA East were invited to run a set of hands-on skills-based workshops for the three classes in Years 3 and 4, which will be used as inspiration for a whole-school public performance presenting the results of their learning and reflection as visual participatory art.

OA’s Community Archaeology Manager planned the workshops in consultation with class teachers, to ensure there were curriculum connections and the content could be used as a springboard for other classroom work. 180 students in the two year groups took part in the archaeology workshops in October and November. Other providers including Lucy Walker of Access Archaeology and Corinne Duhig of the University of Cambridge have been involved in co-creating and delivering interdisciplinary workshops for other year groups. Most recently, Gareth Rees, who conducted the excavation at St Matthew’s School, visited the school to deliver assemblies to the whole school, from reception to Year 6.

The creative outcomes of the project (including songs, crafts and displays) will be included in a final participatory performance for parents at the school in February 2018.

Photograph: courtesy of Philippa Karpas, 30 Bird.