New sculptures for the Kleve Campus

‘Early Childhood Education’ students, kids from the Montessori School Kleve, and arts educator Nicole Peters worked together to create new sculptures for the Kleve Campus of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences.


Under the supervision and guidance of arts educator Nicole Peters and Professor Heike Helen Weinbach (Education with a focus on Early Childhood Didactics), third and fifth semester bachelor students from the Early Childhood Education programme collaborated with pupils from the Montessori School Kleve to create a new group of sculptures for the Kleve Campus. The multi-phase project took participants step-by-step through the entire artistic process, from developing the initial idea, to making models, to building the final large-scale sculptures.

The junior artists first developed polystyrene scale models of their idea under a canopy in the field adjacent to building 5. Once these models were complete, the group sealed them permanently with a concrete-fibreglass mixture. After drying, the students and kids transformed the surface of each sculpture into a colourful tiled mosaic. The centre of the sculpture is an open book with thick, rainbow-coloured pages. The book’s important message is written in English on the left page: Hope, Freedom, Love, Education, Diversity, Respect. The right page shows a clear blue sky and a brightly shining sun as a symbol of peace. The sculture depicts a merging of our world and the world of imagination, as a crocodile slowly creeps out into our world, joining other colourful characters – a fox and a hare – along the way.

The project emphasised a very participatory approach in that students and pupils were responsible for steering the various phases and decision-making processes democratically. The core focus of the project was the harmony that exists between the creation of an idea, its artistic implementation, and the appreciation and enjoyment that comes from the resulting social experience. Both students and kids learned how to work creatively as artists, to use their hands to sculpt their ideas and to work effectively as a group to do so. At the same time, the participants gathered much hands-on experience, refined their handicraft skills and exercised their spatial imagination by taking their ideas ideas from the drawing board to reality.

As a group, each person supported the project with his or her own personality, strengths, perceptions and backgrounds, which taught the group the importance of working together and encouraged their social and communciation skills. The students in particular were able to gather valuable practical experience and improve their project management skills. “Both students and kids benefited greatly from working together towards a common goal. The students learned more than how to manage and instruct the kids effectively in a work environment; they also learned more about the fundamentals of teamwork, because the project required students to engage with the kids as equals, not as dismissive adults. Students were even able to learn from the kids. In my case, for example, I was given helpful tips for placing tiles and even mixing grout by a child who had practice at home. This type of interaction teaches kids that their input can be just as important and useful. I hope they will remember that fondly,’ explained the student Elena Heinzer. 

The project was supported financially by the supporter association Friends of Rhine-Waal University – Campus Cleve, GMG Holding GmbH + Co. Gocher-Mineral-Gewinnungsgesellschaft KG, as well as Heicks & Teutenberg GmbH.

Nicole Peters has a degree in arts education and is known particularly for her artistic projects in public spaces, childcare centres and schools in and around Kleve.