Dominique Cote of Quebec's Atelier Phebus guides Laronde Elementary Grade 2 students in helping complete the school's mosaic project.

Putting the pieces together at Laronde Elementary

South Surrey French-immersion students guided by Quebec mosaic artists in creating decorative project

Everyone at school, from students to teachers, had a hand in Laronde Elementary’s latest project – two mosaic artworks created over a one-week period, May 5-9.

With the guidance of mosaic artists Dominique Cote and husband Mathieu Bergeron – partners in Quebec-based Atelier Phebus – all grades at the South Surrey French immersion school got involved in gluing brightly coloured tile fragments to form the two works, which will be installed in the entrance hallway of the school.

On the day the Peace Arch News visited the work in progress, principal Johane Fortin and teacher Robin Deschene were rubbing shoulders with Grade 2 students eagerly piecing together colours in the appropriate panel areas, under the watchful eye of Cote.

The first piece, a three-foot by three-foot panel, is the new Les Lynx de Laronde logo, designed by Grade 6 student Patrick Hipsz. The second, a six-foot by six-foot work created in four interlocking sections, depicts the school’s core value statement – Vivre en francais.

As Cote pointed out, the design, which incorporates French words and phrases as text, cheekily places Laronde in the middle of a map of Surrey and the rest of B.C.

“Like the centre of the universe,” she joked with Fortin.

“Mathieu did the composition, inspired by a collective collage done by all the students,” she said, adding that they created the wood backing and made the coloured tiles in their studio before travelling to B.C.

This is their first such project in the Vancouver area, following their subscription to Art Starts – a B.C. project that helps schools invite artists to work with schools in a variety of different disciplines – but following the Laronde project they will do similar work at Woodward Hill Elementary and several other locations in B.C.

“For students to work together on a project like this is important – it’s very powerful,” Cote said.

“They also learn that the first mosaics were done in Europe, in Greece and in Italy, and that it was anonymous work – but it’s a lot different now.”

She and Bergeron are taking turns teaching and looking after their two children, Jeanne, 7, and Raphael, 6, who have accompanied them on the trip west as a learning experience.

“It’s nice for the children, as well,” Cote said. “They are seeing something different.”

Cote and Fortin agreed that the enthusiasm of students for the mosaic project has confirmed the effectiveness of it as a teaching tool.

“I invited Mathieu and Dominique to Laronde, because one of our teachers found out about them during an exchange trip to Quebec,” said Fortin.

“It’s a nice place,” Cote said. “We see the children have good manners, they are very interested and very participatory. We’re both artists who like to share our ideas, and this is a nice way to teach, to meet people and get into a school environment.

“We would love to come out to B.C. for a longer time next time, for a few months, perhaps.”




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