Walking into the Coronation School, one’s eyes are immediately drawn up to uncharacteristic splashes of colour and unique shapes speckled to and fro on the ceiling – recreations of popular-culture characters, abstract expressions and scenes of emotional states of mind occupy ceiling tiles throughout the halls of the building.
These tiles are painted by students in various grades as a way for visual artists to make an impression on the halls of their youthful academic institution.
Coronation School Principal Cameron Brown says the idea to paint ceiling tiles took shape while he was travelling as coach of the Senior Women’s Volleyball team.
“Travelling with volleyball you see so many different schools, and I saw a few that had these painted ceiling tiles,” says Brown. “So I took pictures of it with the phone and brought it back to the staff and said ‘I’d really like to do this’.” An enthusiastic response from Coronation School staff led to a snowball effect in the amount of interest shown by students.
“All of a sudden it started really catching on and we thought holy smokes we’re running out of space,” Brown notes. “So we had an art teacher designate [the front lobby tiles] to just the 10, 20 and 30 art classes.” Grad pictures were also incorporated into the tiles in this section, whereas art classes for younger students were partitioned to other sections of the school, creating a lively and unexpected flow to the displayed pieces.
When it comes to content, Brown says that the sky is the limit for imaginative ideas – generally speaking.
“I try not to stop too much from being painted,” says Brown. “Although I try to tell them, don’t pick a rock band or a celebrity because sometimes those guys make really poor choices and then your ceiling tile is going to be up there.”
Brown notes that the benefits of ceiling tile painting extend well after students have left the school.
“It’s nice for them to leave their mark,” he says. “They obviously leave their mark on the people they encounter here, but it’s really great for them to say ‘that’s my ceiling tile, I did that’ when they come back with their kids.”
A student’s perspective
Brittany Fulgham, a grade 12 student at Coronation School, was in the process of working on her expressive, abstract ceiling tile painting when interviewed on November 21. Her design was compiled solely from her mind to the canvas – working with a design that seemed to spontaneously take shape as the painting progressed. When asked what comes to mind when she thinks of her tile art, Fulgham notes that the brightness and colour of the work stand out first and foremost.
“I like to look at things you don’t see everyday,” she says. “[Painting ceiling tiles] gives kids a chance to show what they like and make it their own.”
Her interest in painting a tile was piqued when she saw the practice taking form elsewhere.
“I’d seen it once before at a school and I was really curious how they did it,” she says. “When I came here I noticed them all over the place and I wanted to paint one so bad.” She began working on a tile immediately beginning her 2013 fall semester, after transferring to Coronation School for her Grade 12 year.
Fulgham says this artistic inclination began from a young age with random drawings of found objects.
“When I was little I liked to doodle a lot,” says Fulgham. “I’d draw a layout of the living room, or cats, whatever I could think of. Everybody started complimenting on [my art] so I kept doing it.”
Fulgham says she hopes to continue working with her artistic talents after school is over, citing that she’s actively working on painting furniture as a hobby at present.
“I have a closet door that I’ve been [painting], a sink that I’ve done,” she says. “I like to design anything I can. It’s what I really like to do.”