In 2022 I was delighted to be commissioned to create a mural in the KS1 and KS2 playground at a primary school in Sheffield. The mural was to be painted on a brick wall in the playground that measured 6.4 metres wide by 1.7 metres high.

Prior to designing the mural, I requested that the children who would be using the playground, draw me a picture that was linked to the theme ‘where I live’. It could be of anything on that theme that they wanted and I was delighted with the response. I received about 250 drawings in a cardboard folder from the teacher with whom I was liaising, which I then spent quite some time looking at and sorting into groups according to their themes. Themes included local shops, houses, the church, the park, vehicles, nature, the school. My studio floor was literally covered in piles of drawings!

From the different themes, I selected my favourite drawings. Those selected had an element that really made me smile. Something about them was really original, or beautifully drawn or just showed a great amount of effort and creativity. I decided that I wanted to include these drawings in the mural in some way. Here are just a few of the drawings.

The next step was to ask the children to help me with the composition. I visited the school for a day and spent time with several small groups of children who in their groups organised the drawings to create a composition. We discussed the fact the mural was very long and narrow and talked about creating a kind map of all the different buildings, roads, and other important features that children had included in their drawings.

I photographed the different arrangements the groups of children came up with and then I went home and made a mock up of the mural to scale, using little collages and drawings that I created based on the children’s drawings.

I showed the mock up to the member of staff I was liaising with and she was delighted. Now it was time to begin to paint the mural. I began with applying a coat of primer. The wall was really textured and it took quite a long time to properly cover all the wall.

Once the primer was on, I began sketching out the mural using my collage mock up superimposed on the area of the wall to be painted.