Student art display on Book Street explores UK rivers

November 21, 2017 | 09:58 am GMT+7

Six works of art by students from Hà Nội secondary schools are on display at the Rivers of the World exhibition on Book Street, also known as December 19 Street.




Riparian: An exhibition goer looks at a work of art by Trâu Quỳ Secondary School’s students on Hà Nội’s Book Street. --Photo courtesy of British Council

The Rivers of the World project is an 11 year-old UK initiative that has asked schools in 28 countries to spend a year researching and creating art about local rivers. The following year, the schools are partnered with peers in the UK to research British rivers. In 2017, 69 artworks have been produced by 69 schools from Ethiopia; Zambia; Nigeria; Sierra Leone; Nepal; Việt Nam and the UK.
The artwork on display was previously shown at the project’s global exhibition, which was held in London as one of the marquee events at the Thames Festival from September 1 to 30.
In Việt Nam, the British Council has worked with the Ministry of Education and Training to implement the project for two years, bringing local artists to encourage pupils as they learn about local rivers in the first year and their partner’s river in the second.
With instruction from artist Nguyễn Hoàng Giang, pupils from Gia Thụy; Đông Thái; Lương Thế Vinh; Phương Mai; Nguyễn Du and Trâu Quỳ created pieces reflecting current environmental concerns, while drawing on historical events such as The Great Stink of 1858, when the Thames River was severely polluted by sewage.
At Trâu Quỳ Secondary School, the pupils looked at the history of Cutty Sark, one of the most iconic tea clippers in the UK’s trading history. They gathered information about the ship’s figurehead, characteristics and important people in its history. They then produced paper puppets depicting the individuals.
"We learn a lot through researching the Cutty Sark, exchanging ideas with our UK partner school, giving a presentation and certainly making artwork. We are happy that we participated in the project," said pupil Phạm Ngọc Minh.
The UK’s tea culture was chosen by the pupils from Phương Mai Secondary School to be this year’s theme, as tea is enjoyed in both Vietnamese and British cultures. The pupils looked at the history of tea in the UK and cultural practices around this special beverage. They also compared their findings with tea culture in Việt Nam. They assembled paper teapots and decorated them with images of London for their final artwork.
"The River of the World project gave me an opportunity to learn about the UK’s rivers but also their tea culture. I learned that the way they drink tea is a bit different from ours," said pupil Phan Minh Nghĩa.
Following a recommendation from their partner school, Gia Thụy School’s pupils researched the Great Stink of 1858 and its consequences. They watched a short documentary about how improved hygiene conditions resolved the river’s garbage problem. The pupils learned water transfer printing and created their own representations of the polluted Thames using discarded plastic bottles and cups.
“This is the second year that our students participated in the project,” said teacher Nguyễn Thị Hiền. “Throughout the process, our students have learnt a great deal about team work, research and art. But most importantly, the project raised their awareness of the need to protect our environment.”
At Lương Thế Vinh Secondary School, the pupils were inspired by the Thames Barrier, a structure that prevents London from experiencing annual floods. They watched documentaries and produced stencil prints showing London safe from floods due to the Thames Barrier.
The students at Đông Thái Secondary School researched the Thames salmon initiative. They learnt that the Thames was heavily polluted by industrial activities, making it impossible for many fish species, especially salmon, to survive. In recent years, however thanks to some initiatives by the UK government, the water quality has improved significantly and fish have returned to their natural habitats. Taking inspiration from this, the pupils made collages depicting an optimistic future for the health of the Thames.
The exhibition will run until November 30.