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Thetford Guildhall heritage project sees students from four schools create mosaic artwork of famous figures from town’s history





Mosaics that depict some of the famous figures from Thetford’s history have been created by students as part of a heritage project.

Primary students from Thetford schools worked with Thetford Town Council’s heritage and education officers and local artist Mark Harper on the mosaic artwork for the town’s Guildhall.

Part of the Guildhall Heritage Project, it included 52 students from Admirals Academy, Drake Primary School, Redcastle Family School and Thetford Grammar School who have worked to design and paint mosaic artwork with guidance from the artist.

Primary students from Thetford schools have been working with the town council to complete a mosaic art project at the Guildhall and become 'Heritage Heroes'. Pictured are students from Thetford Grammar with their artwork of Thomas Paine. Picture: Thetford Town Council
Primary students from Thetford schools have been working with the town council to complete a mosaic art project at the Guildhall and become 'Heritage Heroes'. Pictured are students from Thetford Grammar with their artwork of Thomas Paine. Picture: Thetford Town Council

The mosaics depict some of the well-known characters from Thetford’s history, including Thomas Paine, Allan Minns, ‘convict couple’ Susannah Holmes and Henry Kable and the Singh Siblings, Frederick, Catherine and Sophia.

Each school was given a template of a particular figure, drawn by Mr Harper, to focus on in their groups. Through their involvement in the project, the pupils became ‘Heritage Heroes’.

Cllr Doug Jefferson, vice chair of the town council’s heritage and events committee said: "Thetford has a rich and varied history, so it is very exciting to see children and young people from the area get involved by producing these fabulous mosaics.

Students from Admirals Academy with the mosaic of Convict Couple Susannah Holmes and Henry Kable. Picture: Thetford Town Council
Students from Admirals Academy with the mosaic of Convict Couple Susannah Holmes and Henry Kable. Picture: Thetford Town Council

“I hope others will enjoy and appreciate them when they see them, and I am very grateful to the schools and students who worked so hard on the project.”

The project began in the autumn term where the group of students learnt about the history of mosaics, their use in Ancient Greece as well as the Roman Empire and places the art can still be found today.

They took part in various activities such as code breakers, mystery mosaics and created their own mini mosaics.

The students also visited the Guildhall, where they took part in a workshop with Mr Harper, who taught them different painting techniques, including using watercolours and shading or highlighting areas to add depth and dimension to their pieces.

Under his guidance, the students were able to complete their own smaller first drafts of their mosaics which they took back to school.

The project continued into the spring term with students working in groups to complete different drafts of their pieces and they completed their final pieces over several sessions with the town council’s heritage and education officers.

Students from Redcastle Family School with their piece depicting Allan Minns. Picture: Thetford Town Council
Students from Redcastle Family School with their piece depicting Allan Minns. Picture: Thetford Town Council

In enthusiasm for the project, Alice, a pupil from Redcastle Family School, said ‘I found it amazing and joyful experience and I would love to do it again if I had the chance’ and a student from Drake Primary said ‘I really enjoyed the project as it was a great opportunity’.

One of the teachers involved said: “The children really enjoyed the project as it gave them a chance to work together and hone skills that are used in our art curriculum across the year groups and developed year on year.

“The final piece culminated in many hours of dedication and concentration and was a testament to the children's hard work and effort.”

Cllr Stuart Wright, who assisted with the Guildhall mosaic project, said it had been ‘a great success’, allowing children from local schools to help design the mosaics of Thetford characters, learning along the way about their part in Thetford's story.

A total of 52 primary-age children were involved in the heritage project. Picture: Thetford Town Council
A total of 52 primary-age children were involved in the heritage project. Picture: Thetford Town Council

“It is great for the design to complement the existing mosaic floor in the hallway of the Guildhall and to be accessible for all to view whenever the building is open. I am delighted that so many of our young people were able to participate and produce something that gives them a sense of pride in their hometown.”

The completed mosaics have been printed onto a vinyl floor covering and laid as a permanent display in the corridor of the Guildhall.

The children have been invited to an unveiling by the Mayor of Thetford in September where they will see the finished piece and have a celebration of all their hard work.

The Thetford Town Council heritage and education team works with students of all ages running projects that retell and bring to life the history of Thetford.

For more information about the ongoing projects, or to get involved and become a Heritage Hero, get in touch with the team via: mail@thetfordtowncouncil.gov.uk