A miniature universe

Schools and arts award

Just before the end of term, the first half of the STEAM Universe project ended with Greg Stobbs working at Astor to try and build a miniature universe:

Together with Petra at Astor in a genuine collaboration with the year 7s – we were extremely ambitious – we wanted to attempt to build a miniature universe that would illustrate the negative space and event horizon of a black hole, while at the same time making individual mixed media, water colour and photoshop nebula pieces. After an initial artists talk and some very intuitive questions from the students, who could use this experience to gain their Arts award, we set to work. We had over 300 pingpong balls, all paper mashed in advance by the students, which we needed to paint to represent suns. The students looked at images of the surface of the sun, and tried to replicate this in their painting on the spheres, we then added UV paint to give a glow. After artist demos on the use of water colour the students created multiple nebula layers, which we then took in to the computer room, and composed in photoshop. Almost all of the year 7s had never used photoshop before, so this was a great start. They showed a great deal of interest and followed a large number of instructions to develop and feel happy with their own personal Nebulas. 

After looking at constellations, we started to mark out the shape of our black hole, and then hang the suns around this so that none entered the negative space. Although not completely finished by the end of the day, this gave a good idea of the concept. With more time i think that this could be a really beautiful installation, and hope that the school and science department can find a way to display it properly.

After school I worked with the teachers on a spray painting twighlight session, where they used various techniques including stencilling and can control to create a planets-in-space piece. Many had never used spray paint before, and took to it extremely well. Working with Petra and her artist team was priceless and gave me a great inside into how much work they put in to giving their students the best and most rewarding creative experiences within the school. I hope to get the chance to work with them again. (Greg Stobbs)

Petra said: So much fun and so invigorating! Love my job