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28 June 2016

Pupils’ artwork explores wartime history

Artworks inspired by school-wide project exploring the north east of Scotland’s WWl past

A view up the principal bridge to the gate at Fort George.

Pupils from Nairn’s Rosebank Primary School stepped out of the classroom and into the past as they discovered more about the First World War.

The five-month-long project involved each primary class being tasked with learning about different aspects from this significant period in world history. This school-wide initiative was drawn to a close with an art project that saw some pupils get creative and take inspiration from their learnings from over the course of the school term.

Ahead of creating their art the pupils explored a number of topics from WWl, as well as their own local wartime history, through special lessons, visits and hands-on-workshops and activities at Fort George and the Highlander’s Museum. Some of the classes also visited Nairn Museum.

While discovering more about medals, recruitment, rationing, wartime technology and remembrance, the pupils also had the opportunity to learn about local wartime history and visited the working military base, Fort George. As well as discovering the role that the 18th century fortress played in WWl, some of the students also had the chance to try their hand at the communication technology of the day, including Morse Code. Whilst others experienced what the Fort might have been like more than one hundred years ago as a recruitment and training centre for new soldiers and nurses.

The  initiative also saw many of the pupils visit the Highlanders’ Museum, which is located within the walls of Fort George, where they had the chance to take a closer look at some of the museum’s 20,000 objects and artefacts.

Moray-based artist, Geoff Roberts then worked with some of the pupils to create three unique banners showcasing the school’s learnings. Two pupils from each year worked with Roberts and took inspiration from their visits, lessons and activities to create the banners. The artwork features drawings of soldiers, poppies and memorials to those who lost their lives. The banners also show horses to represent the animals in war, letters home from the front, as well as drawings of carrier pigeons, which were widely used to transport messages and orders throughout the war.

Commenting on the art project, which formed part of the school’s wider WWl work, Sylvie Clarke, Learning Development Officer at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “This project has provided pupils of all ages throughout the school with a real opportunity to learn and discover more about one of the most significant events in world history. Interactive workshops and activities along with special lessons and visits helped give the pupils a real insight into different aspects of WWl.

It was fantastic to see how enthusiastic and engaged the Rosebank pupils were with this project from start to finish.

Working with local artist Geoff Roberts, the artwork the pupils produced draws inspiration from their own learning experiences and captures the school’s learnings in a new creative and engaging way. This artwork marks the end of the overall project and brings together the wide range of learning which has taken place across the school.

“It’s also extremely fitting that the pupils undertook this project during the four year period that marks the centenary of WWl.” 

The project is a partnership between Historic Environment Scotland, the Highlanders’ Museum and Rosebank Primary School, working alongside renowned Moray-based artist, Geoff Roberts.

Rosebank Primary School’s, Linsey Matheson, said: “It has been wonderful to see the children across all ages and stages in their education participate in this project – the biggest initiative of this kind that we’ve undertaken.

“The final artwork is a great display of their learnings of WWl and has helped capture their insights into their own local wartime history and heritage.”

Geoff Roberts, the artist involved in the project, added: “This has been a unique art project to be involved with. It was great to work with the pupils and see what they had discovered about this period in history and how it helped inspire them when it came to creating their own artwork and drawings. It was a fantastic project and the pupils really enjoyed being a part of it.”

The artwork banners created by the pupils during the project will go on display at Rosebank Primary School before being displayed temporarily at the Highlanders’ Museum at Fort George.

This final display marks the end of the School’s commemoration showcase which also included an exhibition of all the pupils’ works and their findings for parents and the local community.

Historic Environment Scotland operate a free visits scheme for schools, colleges, universities and other learning groups. The new WWI Recruitment/Training Activity ‘For King and Country’ which was developed as part of the project will be running next school year at Fort George as well as another exciting WWI activity ‘Zeppelins Over Cromarty: Fort George and the First World War’. For more information and how to book, please visit the Learn section of our website:

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
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Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

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For further information

Grant Thomson
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8074
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