Percy Hedley School

Percy Hedley School in Newcastle caters for disabled children and young people.  During summer 2015, a group of students visited Highgreen to spend a morning foraging with Linus from Northern Wilds followed by  bread making on an open fire. Home-made nettle soup was provided for lunch and the afternoon was spent drawing and weaving with Artist Helen Pailing.

“I am ever so grateful for the opportunities the VARC project has given some of our students. Creativity comes from being exposed to different experiences and for some of our students, those opportunities are rare.
Working in partnership with artists and in a different environment is a formidable experience that those students would have never had if it had not been for you. The work carried out with Helen Pailing is a living tribute to that partnership and the experience gained is priceless.
Further to that exposure, one of the student involved used Helen’s work as his inspiration for his GCSE exam work and he produced an Installation that he could not have thought of had he not been exposed to that!!!
Your work is vital to offering ‘experiences’ to the wider world, to those people who otherwise would not or could not access the artistic world that is out there. Thank you!!!!” Nathalie Campbell, Percy Hedley Foundation. July 2015.

This full day experience for students was made possible with funding from the Gillian Dickinson Trust.


During summer 2014 Helen visited the school and staff from Percy Hedley Senior School came to Highgreen and met with Helen Pailing to discuss a possible project.  In September a group of nine students and staff from Percy Hedley Senior School spent a day at Highgreen working with Helen.  A start was made on making items to be incorporated into a new entrance feature for the school.

The main material used was baler wrap and the framework for the structure to surround the door way was fencing wire.  These are both materials that Helen has used in her own work and which are sourced locally and part of the everyday farming life of the community.

The day at Highgreen included a lot of making but also some exploring in the woodland and a picnic outside.

The following week Helen spent a day with the students at the school completing the work and installing it around the school’s entrance.  As well as incorporating items made by the students Helen donated pieces of her own (the tall wire towers wrapped in baler wrap) which had formed part of her exhibition.  Helen wound these in with the wire panel which has made the final work a more excitingly three-dimensional and organic form.  Students can readily alter it in the future by making and adding more items to fix onto the structure.

Everyone really enjoyed the process and were very pleased with the results of their work.