Lilliesleaf Primary School pupil Amelia Purkis was on the ball when it came to a national competition, writes Sandy Neil.
For the nine-year-old’s design for a football strip was one of four to be chosen and will be worn by teams playing in the Forest Pitch games near Selkirk on July 21.
The four winners were announced by Shona Robison MSP, minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, in the Hall of Fame at the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, Glasgow, on Tuesday, where their designs will be on display until July 15.
Nine-year-old Amelia, Kerr Carlisle, 10, from Dalmilling Primary School, Ayr, Anah Dodds, 11, from Letham Primary School, Fife, and 10-year-old Mia Gordon from Edinburgh Academy were presented with a Scotland team football shirt signed by manager Craig Levein at the ceremony.
More than 2,000 young people submitted designs for the Forest Pitch matches during the London 2012 Festival, the climax to the four-year Cultural Olympiad.
The £500,000 Lottery-funded project, one of 12 ‘Artists taking the lead’ ventures commissioned by Creative Scotland, sees the creation of a full-size football pitch hidden deep within a commercial forest alongside the A699 road to St Boswells, and a game played to ‘encapsulate the spirit of the modern Olympic movement’. Artist Craig Coulthard’s piece aims to explore themes of nationhood, community, landscape and memory, while also creating ‘a memorable sporting occasion and a special place that can be revisited and re-experienced for years after the match day’.
Mr Coulthard, a competition judge whose family comes from Selkirk, said: “What I particularly liked about Amelia’s design was the confident colour choice, and the superb drawing of a deer with trees for antlers, plus a charming fox on the back of the shirt.”
Mrs Robison added: “Forest Pitch shows the power of sport in bringing people together. As we embark on the Year of Creative Scotland 2012 it is a brilliant example of the way that learning in our schools is changing through Curriculum for Excellence as we look to challenge our young people to think differently and to be the confident, successful, and responsible people that they can be.”
Andrew Dixon, CEO of Creative Scotland, said: “Forest Pitch has caught the imagination of thousands of young people across Scotland who share Craig’s inspirational vision for the project. Scotland will share in the excitement and spectacle of this year’s Olympics through projects such as Forest Pitch, part of the London 2012 Festival, and the Year of Creative Scotland, a programme that shows Scotland’s creativity at its best: contemporary, international and reflecting the joy that a vibrant cultural life brings to our communities.”
The contest, which was run in partnership with Education Scotland and the Curriculum for Excellence, asked pupils to respond to key themes being explored in the Forest Pitch artwork, including diversity, mythology and collective memory, national identity, the power of sport and environmental impact/sustainability.
Designs by seven Borders pupils, five from the Selkirk area, made the 30-strong final shortlist for the Forest Pitch football strip design competition: Ameila Purkis and Sophie Hill, 10, from Lilliesleaf Primary, 11-year-old Andrew Davidson (Ettrick Primary), and nine-year-olds Will McGill and Olga Burt-Smith (Kirkhope Primary), together with Earlston Primary’s Ellis Reid and Erin Manning, both nine.
“I was overwhelmed by the response to the competition and fascinated by the many different ways in which the pupils responded to the brief,” enthused Mr Coulthard. “We want to congratulate all the shortlisted designers.
“It was incredibly difficult to select the winners, but we were all struck by the originality and imagination shown by each of the winners, and we were happy to have four designs with different artistic approaches. Importantly, these designs also worked well as a group, providing an effective contrast with one another, which is vital in a football match.”