This project first started in October 2013 when Tony attended a presentation given by the Tour de France Cultural Festival along with local councillor Richard Parker. With the TdF passing right through Pool in Wharfedale, the challenge was to engage all primary school age children of Pool in a community arts project that could be displayed along the route. After a great deal of thought, Tony and I came up with the concept you see in the images here. Working alongside Richard Parker, the councillor in charge of events, we next applied for funding from several sources and finally, with the support of the council, our local MP Greg Mulholland and Councillor Barry Anderson, won approval and funding from Leeds Inspired at Leeds City Council. Work then started in earnest at beginning of March this year.
The whole community of Pool in Wharfedale are very proud that our village has been chosen as one of five spectator zones along the Grand Depart stage 1 route. Something really dynamic was needed to demonstrate that the world’s biggest cycle race, The Tour de France, is passing through.
This is why we came up with an idea that not only involves the community but creates a lasting legacy for all to see. Twenty giant double-sided banners, featuring 40 children and their artwork, will be fixed to lamp posts along the route through Pool in Wharfedale.
To get to this stage, first involved three, very enjoyable, artwork sessions with local primary school children. These were very much collaborative workshops involving more than 80 children, their parents and a host of helpers. Each session was stage managed by us in partnership with Richard, who is very much a local hero having been an extremely popular teacher at Pool School until retiring a few years ago. The children were encouraged to be as creative as possible in their drawings to replace the front wheel of a bicycle. We didn’t want to restrict their creativity in any way; whatever they drew would be paired with a comment that could be related to a great day of events in Pool to celebrate the passing of this world famous event – the Tour de France. Every child was also photographed, using the magic of ‘green screen’, as if sitting on a real bike. As these sessions were held during school holidays they were more akin to a fun day out, and I think this relaxed atmosphere meant that we gathered together some amazing artwork from each and every child. Just incredible!
Back to the studio, and our computers, to piece together the artwork for every banner. Photographs of the children were cut out of the green background and placed onto a sketched bike. We then applied their drawings to the front wheel, devised a relevant comment, added the necessary extras and voila!
When all 40 different banner artworks had finally been completed we organised a trip to take the children to see their banners being printed. And what a fantastic day it turned out to be! The printers, Dominion Print of Bradford, had pre-organised everything to perfection along with banner management specialists, Bay Media. Our party was split into 4 groups of 10 and shown around the production of the banners in stages. The children behaved impeccably in the noisy, exciting environment full of gigantic print machinery and wonderful printing smells and colours. Everyone, in stages, were led to one of these giant printing machines to witness 3 banners actually being printed, as if by magic, right before our very eyes. All the children were excited, wanting desperately to see their own banners.
The next stage was to view all the banners that were already printed, waiting for the finishing stage. What an amazing sight to see! Every workbench and tabletop was filled with the banners’ bright colours, and even though I myself was aware that they would be large, I was still taken aback by their dramatic scale. Imagine how the children reacted! And to cap it all, something we hadn’t expected, the printers had very kindly printed out a small-scale version of every single banner, all 40 of them, to present to each and every child! What a wonderful present! ITV television reporter, Adam Fowler, filmed all the proceedings and a few very proud children were interviewed personally.
Later, back at school and after all children had disembarked the coach, we watched as excited children proudly presented their equally proud parents with their own personalised banners. They hurriedly recounted their exciting and marvellous tales from the day. Thanks go to Pool C of E School and to Mrs Jill Clark and Mrs Mandy Parnaby for helping us at every opportunity. We would especially like to thank Cllr Richard Parker for everything - it's been so much fun!
Karen & Tony van de Bospoort