School projects are where it all started for Handspring. Our first ever commission came from a school in Leeds, after Scot had done a Grab 5 [healthy eating] workshop with two other artists. The school wanted a permanent outdoor structure, and so, 15 years ago, the Apple Shelter was born. We did a number of whole school projects around apples, planted an orchard, ran assemblies and supported a creative writing project around the new shelter. This was one of the winning entries:
The sculpture is like a rest stop for hungry worms to have food.
Children are inside the ‘big apple’ like the first human pips.
Little wooden leaves are like tiny race car pits for rain to drive through.
There is a giant stalk for birds to perch on.
Sheets of steel are like the remaining flesh and skin of a fallen apple.
Outside of the sculpture you can see on a rib there is a crack, like a battle scar, which shall stay for eternity.
Since then we have worked in many schools up and down the country, and have completed a massive variety of projects: playground shelters, seating, storytelling chairs, towers, outdoor classrooms, sensory spaces, play sculptures, entrance sculpture and canopies, stages and sand pits.
Many of these projects have involved workshops with the kids or a whole school assembly to engage them in what we are making. Some have been funded externally but quite a few schools have raised the money internally and through funding activities. We are currently involved with two school projects in Manchester and Sheffield that will be some of our most ambitious to date.