Whole School Assembly

On Monday 12 November the artwork was unveiled at the whole school assembly by Sir Bob Russell in his official role as High Steward of Colchester. 

Sir Bob Russell said: All involved are to be congratulated on a fantastic project spreading across five years , in engaging so many pupils in learning about The Great War.

Special guests also inluded Captain Dennis Tranham from the 16 Air Assault Brigade (right) and Mr George Lazenby MBE  (left) from Colchester Garrison. 

Captain Dennis Tranham said: On behalf of all serving servicemen and women of today thank you for your Remembrance of our fallen comrades. 

It was a privilege to be a part of such a moving occasion. So much fantastic work by the children with excellent support by so many adults coming into North. Truly a Day to Remember. Jan Blackwell, Chair of Governors


Remembrance and Unveiling

The school’s Remembrance Day Service and Unveiling of the Home Coming artwork will go down as one of the school’s finest days.

Parents gathered in the Junior Hall prior to the unveiling. Lots of staff were present to run the ‘Café’ with drink and food kindly provided by Tesco’s.

The school bell rang for the first time in 24 years to beckon the guests into the Junior Hall in good time for the Last Post and the two minute silence.

One parent commented:
It was beautiful. It was absolutely amazing to think the bell hadn’t been rung for 25 years and we’re standing here listening to it on Remembrance Day.

Jeromy Bosch playing The Last Post

Before this, the Year 6 pupils reminded everybody of the impact of The Great War on the local community by calling the names of the 76 former pupils on the school Roll of Honour.

The artwork was unveiled by Michael Woods, relation of the four Newell brothers who served in the First World War, two are commemorated on the roll of honour.

The big moment we had all been waiting for!
Headteacher Alan Garnett, project manager Laura Davison and artist Ian Etheridge spoke very movingly of the work of the teachers and children over the course of the three projects.

Then Lily, Hajar, Charlotte, Betsy, Maddie and Joe performed remarkable monologues of people depicted in the artwork and what they did during and after the war.

Afterwards the guests were able to view the artwork up close and look at the exhibition and the wonderful work on display from all the KS2 classes.

The school was opened to the public and it was good to see school families as well as people with no connection to the school. Recent and distant former pupils and staff were in attendance too.

 What a day! The comments in the visitors’ book are amazing.

Kate Randall wrote to the Year 6 pupils:

Dear Year 6,

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Remembrance Day service at the School. I was not prepared for what I experienced, your performances were very humbling and it was a privilege and an honour to be in the audience. You really brought it to life, and it was easy to transport myself back in time and imagine myself there due to the content and portrayal of the accounts of those who lived during the Great War.

It was clear to see how much effort, hard work and dedication has gone into the homecoming project and it was delightful to hear you all explaining your individual contributions to your families after the unveiling had taken place. North School is a very special place, made special by yourselves, the teachers and the wider school community, I was a very proud member of the school community yesterday and wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you on behalf of myself and the rest of the NSA. I hope you are all as proud of yourselves as we are of you.

Yours faithfully Kate Randall NSA Chair 

Artwork Installation

Saturday 10 November, Ian Etheridge arrived with the artwork for installation. An exciting day seeing the artwork for the first time!


The artwork installed and hall set up for the unveiling Sunday 11 November 2018

Detail work

Shaping the top of the frame.
Carefully shaping the foreground figures.

The flat surfaces  gradually disappear as I carve deeper into the wood and commit to the details. I have to concentrate very hard as it would be very easy to make mistakes! At this stage the smaller tools come into use and I use a wide variety of different shaped blades for the intricate cuts. It takes many hours each day and my hands are starting to feel like leather!

I listen to the radio while I work and I keep hearing reports on the news about various remembrance projects around the country. It makes me realise that we are part of something big and important , this encourages me in my carving.


Putting things in place

The foreground begins to take shape.
Things are starting to come together.

I have almost put everything in place at the right level. The next step will be to transfer the drawing to the surface of the wood and begin working on the details. I will need to make sure all my tools are extremely sharp!


The carving begins!

The big drawing looks more like a collage at this stage as I tend to cut bits out and try out new positions then stick them back on again. When I am happy with how it looks I use parts of the drawing as templates to transfer the outlines onto the surface of the wood. Then, at long last,it is time to get out the chisels and gouges and set to work on the carving. I use just the same sort of tools that we used for making the woodcuts in school. I just use the bigger sizes for the early stages of waste removal as I set each element into the wood. I gradually work out the various levels of the design and cut deeper into the boards.

Blocking out the carving at the correct depth.

Design drawing and development

The next stage was to complete the design drawing and have it approved by Laura. I sent her quite a few photographs and she sent back suggestions for improvements, she even came all the way to my home in the Isle of Wight to see the big drawing!! Happily we were  able to agree on the changes and I was given the go ahead to start the carving.

Working on a collaborative project takes patience and an ability to step back and consider the bigger picture. Sometimes this is easier said than done and I have to remind myself that the project has clear objectives and involves a lot of individuals.

I feel very privileged to be involved with Homecoming. The children have shown considerable commitment and imagination with their ideas, I only hope that I can do them justice!


Detail from big drawing.

First steps-Making up the large panel

My workshop is full of wood and the floor is covered in shavings ! I chose to use Tulip wood, also called White Poplar. It is a light coloured hardwood with a fine grain and an even texture that carves very nicely. It came from a sawmill in Midhurst, West Sussex  where it was  cut into boards and dried in a kiln to make it suitable for internal use.

I planed the edges straight and glued the planks together to make up a large panel. I had to use some huge clamps to hold them together while the adhesive dried. The picture above shows the first boards being joined. We call this laminating.


Carving and printing workshops

The Community Room has been converted into a studio space, all set up and ready for two more workshop days with Ian. Work benches, boards, hammers, chisels and an area for printing, were all ready for a busy day discovering how Ian uses his tools to create an artwork.

First, the designs were transferred to wood, by using carbon paper. Many of us had never used carbon paper before, so we soon discovered it is a brilliant tool to transfer your drawing on to the wood.

Then Ian taught us how to hold the chisel properly and the techniques we needed to carve the wood. We had to be very careful, especially when our designs were detailed and intricate. 


The carving was hard work and made our hands ache. It was sometimes difficult to understand how the printing would work and where we needed to carve.

The next part was to load up the rollers with printing ink and ink-up our boards.

At the end of the day, we all had created a wood block and printed an image from it. We are going to display then at the Parents Open Evening.

Artist-led design sessions

The Year 5 pupils had a fantastic two days, working with Ian to develop designs for the final artwork. Images included drawings of key figures from the research and case studies such as the Humphrey brothers, the Headmaster John Harper  and Elizabeth Twyman who was a nurse working for the Red Cross at St Martins.

A group of children sketched the façade of the school building – with some exceptional results.

One child said: I’ve walked past the school everyday for six years and never really looked at it before. There is so much detail in the architecture!

The children were very interested in the nurses who worked for the Red Cross at St Martins. Below is an image of the nurse Elizabeth Twyman.

Ian will have a hard job selecting images from so many brilliant designs!