Grade 4 students at Glenlyon Norfolk School (GNS), were inspired by Oak Bay residents past and present in a recent collaborative inquiry project. Studying the work of internationally renowned bird artist, Fenwick Lansdowne, who once lived on Transit Avenue, and receiving guidance from Linda Mercer, a current Oak Bay artist, the students researched and sketched 26 species of local wildlife.
The project, spearheaded by Sarah McLeod, teacher-librarian at GNS junior campus, had even more Oak Bay connections. The students researched wildlife found in and around Oak Bay and the Salish Sea with the help of local naturalist Dr. Jacques Sirois, and an app called Central Coast Biodiversity that was created a couple of years ago at UVic. GNS art teacher, Nancy Fletcher, then helped the students turn their research into beautiful artwork.
“All of these connections came together in this amazing inquiry project. The students researched the birds in the neighbourhood. They used secondary sources of information to research their critters and then they did beautiful watercolour artwork,” said McLeod.
The children illustrated 26 species of wildlife, mostly birds, living within 1 km of their school, for a total of 34 illustrations. They included Buffleheads, Marbled Murrelets, Pacific Great Blue Herons and many others.
“You have to see this inspiring collection. It will put a smile on your face,” said Sirois.
Glenlyon Norfolk is on the shores of Oak Bay itself, of the Salish Sea, and of Victoria Harbour Bird Sanctuary, a historic migratory bird sanctuary since 1923. The idea of the project is to celebrate the unique location of the school and the wildlife that calls the area home.
“As part of this collaborative effort to bring the local species to the attention of the community, we worked on these wonderful watercolours in keeping with the style of Fenwick Lansdowne,” said Fletcher.
“Fenwick Lansdowne died 10 years ago in 2008. Now it’s 2018 so we decided well, let’s put this together. Children and birds and art and Hallelujah,” said Sirois.
Shreesha, 9, who researched and painted the Western Purple Martin, liked painting the piece of art and learning about it the most.
“My favorite part was learning about what they do in the winter if they migrated someplace else besides Canada,” said Tristan, 9, who painted the Pacific Great Blue Heron.
The students will present their research and original watercolour artwork at a pop-up art exhibit at the Royal BC Museum on Friday, May 11.
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