In our school, Art Club was not a formerly arranged thing, at least at the time I was there. A bunch of us would hang out in the art room every lunchtime and the art teachers (Mr. Vibert, who I think has retired and still paints, and the briefly idealistic Ms. Jones) would get us to work on huge projects.

I think it started when we were 12 or 13 and lasted a couple of years before dissolving. In the heyday, there was me, Dan, Paul, Akeel, Jason and Andi. There were others who came later, and people who hung out there but didn't join in the Big Projects, but these were the core guys.

The big projects were large-scale paintings that were done on vast rolls of paper and took weeks to assemble. The main ones that I remember are an American Footballer (which was done by previous members of the club years before we joined), a nature scene, a graffiti'ed wall, and the ill-fated Cadillac.

The Nature Scene

The nature scene was a huge landscape painting planned out mainly (I think) by Mr. Vibert. It included a forest, a beach, an undersea section, and possibly a waterfall. We set about painting the full-scale version and adding detail, and then adding a wide range of animals to the landscape (which were done seperately and then stuck on). I particularly remember doing a large lobster for this one. The majority of the animals were based on illustrations from nature books. I'm pretty sure that the finished thing was eventually displayed, I think it was put up over the stairs somewhere in A-block. I can't for the life of me remember what it looked like in its finished state. I recall vaguely that someone (probably Dan) did a rather deformed looking tiger.

The Graffiti'ed Wall

The graffiti'ed wall was a very different piece of work. Inspired by Ms. Jones' artbook of New York subway train graffiti, we commandeered one of the large walls in the A-block art room (way up on the top floor, where Art Club convened) for the Wall. Again, the picture was to be done on paper before being put up. We used readymixTM paints (gallons of the stuff) as we couldn't get an OK to use spraypaint. The canvas was divided into four quarters, each about 3 or 4 ft. high and 8 ft. wide. Paul, Dan, Andrew (I think) and myself were each given a quarter of the page to 'tag'.

We decided to do one large word each, and one or more pictures to fill up the remaining space. I remember that I did the word 'Shark' and added a leaping shark (based on one from World of Illusion) and a punk guy with a minigun. Paul did the word 'Psycho' (although I recall it ended up as 'Pyscho'). I can't remember what words Dan or Andi did, but recall that Dan did a Space Marine as one of his images. (Dan possibly did 'No Remorse'.)

We used chalk and pastels for much of the picture (to simulate spraypaint), and that all the white parts had to be repainted when we varnished the picture (which took days in itself). The painting went up on the wall over the sinks, and I remember that it stayed up for quite a while, and looked extremely impressive, if increasingly tarnished - but then that was all part of the effect, right?

The Ill-Fated Cadillac

The ill-fated Cadillac was our first and final attempt at a 3D installation. For some reason, the art teachers had decided that having a Cadillac bursting through the wall (in cheesy 50's restaurant style) would look cool.

We constructed the shell of a Cadillac Eldorado up to halfway through the front wheels (so it would look not so much like it was bursting through the wall as nudging through it, and so we didn't have to do the windscreen). We built up the shape of the bonnet with a form of smooth papier mache (requiring many layers of newspaper and PVA glue). Dan constructed the front grille seperately using cardboard wrapped in foiled paper. We attached the headlights and a Cadillac chevron and badge (which were meticulously constructed by me).

The main thing I remember was that we repainted it a hell of a lot of times - initially it was a rather sickly prawn cocktail pink, but later it was repainted in red. Although we lavished a large amount of effort on it, this project was never finished. I think by then there were too many people involved and we couldn't see it ever getting done.

It's possible that we did finish the Cadillac eventually, as I have a hazy recollection of it being put up. I also very vaguely recall another project being done the following year on the wall outside the artroom, although I can't remember exactly what it was going to be. (Although I can't remember the content of that last project, I do recall crossing swords with Conrad - a guy who I really hated - numerous times during its development.) This last Big Project of the Art Club ended that era. I still have happy memories of those days, when we would basically 'jam out' on huge meandering creations.