Mastering outdoor mosaics


Advertise with us

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/06/2015 (2824 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Students at Beaverlodge School have transformed a slice of the outdoors into a beautiful learning space.

The outdoor classroom was brought to life through the Artists in the Schools Program driven by the Manitoba Arts Council. Local mosaic artist Ursula Neufeld has been carrying out innovative art projects at Beaverlodge Elementary School (6691 Rannock Ave.) for three years working with students and teachers to help beautify the grounds inside and out.

For this particular project, Diana Juchnowski, outdoor education and Grade 1 and 2 teacher, came up with the theme of flowers to decorate the outdoor setting. With that in mind, Neufeld brought in samples of flower artwork created by renowned artists from around the world to give the students ideas to work with, such as Eastern Woodland Wildflowers and various European flowers.

“These kids are pros,” Neufeld said. “They were so proficient with cutting that I brought them up another level, which I would usually just do with high school students.”

She explains how the students were “colouring with tile” as they cut the outdoor tile pieces into different shapes to create the flower designs they initially drew. The mural mosaic of flowers ended up on stone benches placed in a semicircle surrounded by forest on the east side of the school.

Principal Dawn Thompson said many of the teachers have already taken the students out there this year to host outdoor reading lessons with the kids or to learn about nature. She said Juchnowski incorporates lots of outdoor learning into her programming for some of the youngest students at the school, such as science lessons based on wildlife in the forest.

While Neufeld worked with approximately five children from one grade each day over the course of several weeks to create the space, the students were gaining a wide array of skills in the process of putting the mural mosaic together.

“It’s very mathematical and so they can miss math class because they are doing a lot of math trying to get all these pieces in there and working with spatial relations,” Neufeld said.

Outside of Beaverlodge Elementary School, students have their photos in glass bubbles on various benches and many alumni are able to come and see their designs still on the school campus years later.

“It’s a permanent time capsule,” Thompson said.

Neufeld used her expertise to track down weather-resistant materials to ensure all the hard work the students did on the mural would be able to withstand Winnipeg’s extreme climate for years to come.  Neufeld has worked on elaborate mural mosaic projects around the world, including a special project in Chile collaborating with 60 artists from around the world. To see more of her work featured in the inner city and at various Manitoba schools, visit

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us

The Metro