Year 10 and 11 students (as well as staff) have all been learning about The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the critically acclaimed book written by Robert Tressell, who died penniless in 1911, in the Royal Liverpool Infirmary Workhouse.
The story follows the struggles of a group of decorators in the early 20th century, struggling to make ends meet in the fictional town of Mugsborough. The central character Frank Owen tries, unsuccessfully, to get his fellow workers to stand up to a capitalist system and create a society in which work is performed to satisfy the needs of all rather than to generate profit for a few. The book is considered by the politically minded to be as relevant today as it when it was written.
In response to Robert Tressell’s Book, Mr McConnachie and the students developed an art project in collaboration with John Moores University and three other schools from Merseyside and Cheshire. We were honoured to be part of this event, which culminated in an exhibition Constructing Connections: Four Schools at the John Lennon Art and Design Building.
As part of the project, the boys visited Croxteth Hall and were particularly interested in the sharp contrast between the luxury of the family rooms and the starkness of the servant’s room. The students worked together to explore the concept of ‘trace’. Reflecting on the physical exertion of being a servant and on the long walks along corridors and up and down staircases, they drew their footprints on large piece of paper and then erased the footprints, leaving behind faint traces of where they had walked. This process echoed the actions of the servants as they cleaned up after a day’s hard work.
On Monday 18th Sep, our students proudly presented video and audio work at the John Lennon Art and Design Building, alongside their documented traces. They were also given the opportunity to view the exhibits from the other three participating schools: St Margarets, Warrington UTC and Hawthornes School.