Gräfelfing – Exhibition “Leaf warmth, root noise” – District of Munich

How does a tree breathe? How do people remember the stories of trees? What and how does an oak tree see that we humans are unable to see? The pupils of the sixth grade of the middle school Lochham have artistically dealt with these and similar questions in the past few weeks together with the “School of Imagination Gräfelfing”. The result of this artistic process could be admired in the ideas realm of the Gräfelfing community library. The sixth grade exhibition is part of a nationwide project on “Culture and climate – shaping cultural change,” explains Lilli Plodeck, founder of the school of imagination. The starting point for the current project was an action from last year, when the school planted an oak tree to mark the 100th birthday of artist Joseph Beuys. The action was intended to commemorate Beuys’ famous work of art “7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration” in Kassel.

For more than 30 years, the school of imagination in Gräfelfing has made it its goal to offer children between the ages of five and 15 access to art and artistic work. Thanks to the support of the municipality of Gräfelfing, this is continuously possible, according to managing director Plodeck, even in times of inflation and the energy crisis. “Like my colleagues, I am very grateful that we have been able to create space for children’s art for so long,” she says. That children become more visible and can exist in public space is the main motivation behind all projects of the school of imagination. “The world as it is is not particularly child-friendly and we want to change that by consciously using public space as a presentation space for children’s art,” she emphasizes. For example, an underpass in Gräfelfing used to be a canvas for young artists for six months.

“In every child there is a small or big artist”

For the project “Flat warmth, root noise” it is the wooded area near Lochham Middle School that has housed the children’s art: under the guidance of Lilli Plodeck and her teacher Gabriela Marko, they have transformed various natural materials into small works of art and set them up in the forest . Gradually, a photo book was created from photos of these works of art, taken over several mornings, says Plodeck. “This workshop book makes it clear that every child has developed their very own relationship with the different trees and that’s exactly what’s so nice,” she says happily, “the project really offers a lot of freedom for personal encounters with nature.” Little by little, stories were added to the first observations and, after the mornings in the forest, were worked out in the workshop rooms of the school of imagination using various materials and techniques.

Plodeck reiterates the value of working with Lochham Middle School so that all children can access and experience art as an artist. “Being involved in art is a tremendous privilege that not all children have access to – not all parents have the capacity for it.” That’s where the school of imagination comes in, says Plodeck, because they have just that capacity. “In every child there is an artist, big or small, and it’s our job to lure them out.”

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