Here at Dulwich College International we often mention Shackelton and his odyssey through the Antarctic ice but perhaps we have stumbled upon another Dulwich story -- one that we can perhaps file somewhere between the Dulwich London poultry club cult following and the great 20th century explorer.
Year Six students at Dulwich College in Seoul have been busy crafting gnomes as part of an art project, and a breakaway group ― the “Dulwich Dozen” ― have been chosen to make an expedition all the way to England. The twelve brave gnomes will spend their summer exchange trip at the Gnome Reserve in Devon, a woodland with more than 2,000 miniature men run by artist and gnome enthusiast Ann Atkins. It’s a good topic because it’s a bit quirky and uniquely British,” said Dulwich College Seoul Headmaster Daryl Orchard. “We are always looking for ways to inspire the children’s learning and this was a great one.” The students explained that they made the gnomes by pinching out two pots and putting them together to make a hollow body. Then they added the head, beard and the rest before firing their gnomes twice ― but they all agreed that the legs were the hardest part. Andy Brown, Head of Junior School art at DCSL, who led the project, said it introduced a lot of new techniques but also let the students express themselves. “It’s got a good framework but there is also massive scope,” he said. “Their imagination can run wherever they want it to.”
The students explained that their gnomes had quite varied personalities. Danny Chung said his gnome was quite hardworking, while Imani Squire’s gnome, Mr. Candy, is so fond of sweet treats he has “Cadbury” emblazoned across his chest. But some of the gnomes might suffer as they have had to leave their favorite things behind. Mr. Gold will have to watch his spending, as his bag of gold will stay in Seoul for safekeeping, while others will have to go on a diet, with the chicken legs and candy left behind. “It’s fantastic for their work to be seen by a few thousand people,” said Brown. “I don’t think some of the students quite understand how unusual this is. It’s not the sort of thing a gnome would normally do. And they’re proud of their work and that’s very important.” Lainie Norris, one of the students sending her gnomes away, said she thought the people in England would be impressed by their work. “They will think it’s cool that children made them,” she said. Mr. Orchard compared the gnomes’ journey to that of Ernest Shackleton, an explorer of the Antarctic who went to Dulwich College in London. “We are glad that the gnomes have ended their gnomadic existence and that they will have a gnome to go to and not live in gnome-man’s land,” said Orchard, to a mixed response from the students. The students said they weren’t sad to see the gnomes go ― after all, they will be back in the fall ― but some at least entertained the notion that they might come back with a tale to tell. “Maybe they will tell stories (to the English gnomes),” said William Kang. Text adapted from original article by Paul Kerry