Students from Newcastle College University Centre have collaborated with a Gateshead primary school to turn a school storage unit into a work of art. 

Illustration degree students at Newcastle College were commissioned by Ryton Infant and Junior School to turn their shipping container turned lockdown classroom into a more appealing part of the school.

The container, which is over 12 metres long and 2 metres high, was purchased in March 2020 so that children from key worker families and with educational needs could continue to attend socially distanced lessons at the school on the peak of lockdown.

Now used for vital storage, the school asked Newcastle College degree students to submit unique and bright designs. 

The winning design, chosen by Year 5 pupils at the school, was submitted by Illustration degree student Amelia Palmer, 21. It was chosen for its themes of nature and wildlife, which acted as a reminder to all children at the school of the importance of getting outdoors and taking care of the environment.

Amelia, who is progressing to a Master's Degree in Children's Book Illustration, found that the project was a great opportunity to gain experience working on a larger scale, collaborating with both the school and professional spray painter Dan McConway who translated her design onto the container.

Helen Laybourne, School Business Manager at Ryton Federation of Infant and Junior Schools, said: "We started thinking about how to improve things last March and made an initial enquiry with Newcastle College Art Department to see if they had any ideas. They couldn't have been more helpful and set about a challenge for their Illustration degree students to create a design.

"We are all so happy with the design as the children love learning outdoors and in our own forest, so it feels really representative of our school and the happier times ahead."

Gateshead paint manufacturer AkzoNobel, through its Team Valley Dulux Decorating Store, supported the school and college with base paint.

David Hails, Illustration course tutor at Newcastle College, said: "The project was a really fantastic opportunity for our degree students to get involved with and we couldn't have been happier to help.

"It was a real community project, right down to the providers of the base paint, which was wonderful to be part of and an excellent learning experience for our students who want to produce outdoor art on a large scale."

Councillor Gary Haley, cabinet member for children and young people at Gateshead Council, added: "Many of our schools across Gateshead had to make changes during the pandemic to continue providing the best possible learning experience for children and young people.

"To see how the students came together to make art out of an eyesore, however essential, is really uplifting."