‘The peace mural project was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils participating to express their feelings about war and conflict and their hopes for world peace’.
Siobhan Kevins, Teacher, Brecknock Primary.

 - getting started
 - peace-art topics
 - the peace machine

Guide to creating a peace mural 1

Starting off
Find a suitable wall, indoors or outdoors, and ensure you have permission to use it. Choose a general theme for the mural – there are some suggestions for themes on here.

Inspiring ideas and developing designs
Avoid imposing a design and simply asking the children to paint in-between the lines. For the children to identify with the mural they should have as much input as possible to the design process – developing the content and the look and feel of the mural - as well as actually painting the mural. Let the children’s ideas create the mural and ensure they are listened to and respected. Encourage sharing and co-operation and ask them to use their imagination and to draw on their own experiences, knowledge and skills.

Think about what you want to express in the mural and the colours and forms which work with your theme. Should it be bright, bold and colourful or more subdued, intricate and relaxing – or a combination of these? Consider who the intended audience is and whether they will view the mural from up-close or a distance. This will help guide your choice of colours and level of detail in the mural. Also consider the composition - how the various elements of the mural relate to each other and to the surrounding environment.

Stories, personal accounts and newspaper articles are a good way to help children start thinking about an issue and to stimulate creativity. You can also use pictures, music, poetry, film and TV programmes. Start collecting stimuli before beginning the project

It is important not to be depressing or too negative. If abolishing nuclear weapons is your theme, for example, focus on the heroic stories of some of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki or on the peace protests outside nuclear bases or testing sites. Understanding the horrific human consequences of nuclear weapons is an important part of the learning experience but it should not be a strong theme in the mural. Try to focus on the positive steps people have taken, or could take, to create a more peaceful world.

Preparing the wall and paint
Prepare the surface by ensuring it is free from damp, flaky or dusty material. Make sure the area is safe and free of hazards. Conduct a risk assessment - it need not take long and you can get free advice from your local authority health & safety adviser. It is particularly important if you are working at height and using scaffolding or ladders.
Different paints are suitable for particular surfaces and locations. You may want weatherproof masonry paint, for example, or paint with a gloss or matte finish. Get advice from a DIY store if necessary.

Transferring the design onto the wall
There are a variety of ways of transferring your design from paper to the wall. Try copying it to an OHP transparency and projecting it onto the wall to trace out. Alternatively, draw a grid over the paper design and another larger grid of the same proportions on the wall. Transfer the design one square at a time from paper to wall, using the grid to guide you.

Painting the mural
Get well organised before you start applying paint and allow plenty of time if working with children. Ensure suitable protective clothing is worn and there are enough brushes and paint pots. Be clear about who has responsibility for mixing colours and decanting paint (decant small amounts of paint into plastic containers – e.g. old margarine or yoghurt pots - rather than using the original tin). Decide which parts of the mural to paint first and which afterwards. Also ensure someone is responsible for health and safety and stick to your risk assessment guidelines.

If a large group is working on the mural divide into smaller groups, each with responsibility for different elements of the design. If there are too many children to be painting at the same time you can rotate the groups so everyone has a chance to paint. Children who are not painting will need something else to occupy them - this could be practising painting on paper the part of the mural they will paint next, or perhaps a book, video or website related to the theme of the mural.

For maximum impact you will probably want to tell other people about your new peace mural. Invite the press, your local MP and councillors, as well as all the children involved in the project to come to an unveiling ceremony. It will be an opportunity to proudly display your mural. To talk about the issues it raises and to thank everyone for all their hard work.

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