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This week we will make art from the junk you can find lying around your house!

Perhaps your recycling bin collection has been suspended, or maybe you just have extra recycling due to everyone being stuck at home.

Well, now's the time to use it up creatively – and to have some fun together while doing it!

Feline inspiration

In 2019 Art UK loaned Cat by Jane Ackroyd from the Harlow Art Trust collection to three Harlow primary schools.

Jane Ackroyd's 'Cat' sculpture in a Harlow school

Jane Ackroyd's 'Cat' sculpture in a Harlow school

In response to receiving this characterful artwork for a day, teachers and students chose an animal (a donkey, a giraffe, a mythical cat monster) to represent their school.

Children paint their giraffe sculpture

Children paint their giraffe sculpture

Artist Jane Ackroyd pre-made wire structures for children, parents, carers and teachers to build onto using scrim dipped in wet plaster coloured with acrylic paint. Participants collaborated to make some wonderful creatures.

A mythical cat dragon!

A mythical cat dragon!

The pupils studied Cat with their teachers and classmates, discussing and sketching the shapes that make up this playful sculpture.

Ackroyd's mischievous animal is composed and welded from found scrap mild-steel, including a girder (the tail), Roman nails (the claws) and a ball-shaped object (a rather satisfied and sizeable stomach).

Anyone who is an owner of – or a lover of – cats, will recognise how cleverly the artist captures the character and stance of a real-life feline, with one paw stretching out lazily...

Children inspect 'Cat' at Latton Green Academy

Children inspect 'Cat' at Latton Green Academy

How to make your own

At home, if you have one, spend some time sketching your pet. If you are in a pet-free house, you could search the web for your favourite animal and do the same activity.

Try to draw your animal sleeping, alert, stretched out, angry, contented, playful – you might have to use your imagination!

You could even combine two animals to create your very own mashed-up creature.

A selection of drawings of 'Cat' by pupils at the three Harlow primary schools

A selection of drawings of 'Cat' by pupils at the three Harlow primary schools

Then have a go at reducing your animal down to simple shapes so you can make a 3D version.

The next step is to find a selection of (clean) old cereal or Easter egg boxes, egg cartons, bottle tops, kitchen roll tubes, juice cartons, squash bottles, plastic packaging and other junk – and use these to build your animal.

Making a creature from junk

Making a creature from junk

You can use sticky tape, scissors and/or glue and a stapler to attach shapes together. You can get a parent or carer to help if this proves tricky!

Making a junk lion

Making a junk lion

You could add googly eyes and string, wool, pipe cleaners or paper straws for whiskers, etc.

A dragon made from junk

A dragon made from junk

When you are happy with your creature, if you have any paints (poster, acrylic), you could paint your pet to really bring it to life.

Children with their junk animals

Children with their junk animals

Tell a story

When Cat visited primary schools in Harlow, the children enjoyed learning about the sculpture's unexpectedly exciting past. Stolen from Old Harlow Library and sprayed gold by thieves, Cat was recovered in 1995, returned to its original colouring by the artist and it now lives in The Gibberd Gallery in the town's civic centre.

Cat

Cat 1983

Jane Ackroyd (b.1957)

Harlow Art Trust

You could make up a story about your creature and the adventures it gets up to during lockdown.

Share your creative creatures and stories with us on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @artukdotorg with the hashtag #ArtUKHomeSchool

The loans of Jane Ackroyd's Cat from Harlow Art Trust's collection were part of over 75 Masterpieces in Schools loans taking place between 2018 and 2020 thanks to the generous support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, R. K. Harrison and Hiscox.

Selina Levinson Drake, Learning and Engagement Manger at Art UK