Steve Messam

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Learning Walk


Date: 2011

Client: Queen Katherine School

Location: Kendal, Cumbria. UK

Dimensions: variable

Materials: mirror-polished steel, vinyl, cast resin, pencils, plywood, books

Fabrication: SunSigns, Kendal (vinyl & CNC), EAE Polishing Services, Oldham (mirror polishing)

Further info: Cumbria Futures


Commissioned by Queen Katherine’s School in Kendal, Cumbria, ‘Learning Path’ is a sequence of installations within the lower school building about learning.

The path starts at the lockers where most of the students enter the building. A circle mirror-polished into the doors of the largest locker bank transforming an uninspiring wall of doors into an engaging work of art. The lockers mark the start of the journey of learning with self reflection. The circle is polished into the existing doors to retain the scratches, dents and marks of history the lockers have. 

The pathway continues along a glass corridor featuring twisting etched lines of quotations on each of the four main subject areas. The lines converge at the far end with a book breaking through the window towards a pile in the ground outside. 

The path ends at the other end of the building with a display case built from 3,000 pencils. This marks the other end of the learning journey where the results of learning in turn provide learning for others. The display case is curated as a ‘fourth plinth’ space with a single piece - not restricted to artistic output - selected for a half-term period by a committee of students.

The process of creating the installations was overseen by a steering group of year 7,8,and 9 students as the commissioning body. They made all the commissioning and curatorial decisions and were responsible for pitching it to the school heads for the budget and introducing it to the rest of the school and parents.

The project was part of the Creative Partnerships Change School Programme run by Creative Futures, Cumbria.