Compressed Paper Benches

Sculpture Project for Tranby College School

benches created.jpg

The Junior School Visual Art Department undertook this project with paper clay artist, Graham Hay. After meeting Graham at a teacher’s workshop at Sculpture by the Sea, Graham was invited as Artist in Residence to work with students on portrait busts. In 2013, we invited him back with a view to creating a sculpture with the students, that would enhance our grounds.

Graham was inspired by the idea of community and social networks, and so began an 18- month collaboration. Students were introduced to the Social Network Analysis ideas. We discussed the concept of the spokes within a wheel and the support they offer. The wheel continues to function even if a spoke is missing or bent – the weight transfers to another spoke. They discussed who their support networks consisted of and created a visual representation in clay, in the form of their head. They attached “wooden spokes” (skewers) with the names of their supporters on it.

compressed paper bench.jpg

Students then set about collecting old bicycle wheels and took out the spokes. We needed 2000!  Graham provided the archival quality paper which came from old government department publications. He cut aluminium bases for the seats and drilled holes, through which the spokes were threaded in intricate patterns. The books were cut, holes drilled and the students threaded these onto rods and compressed them, ready for Graham’s finishing sculptural touches.


This project was such a joy and inspiration and involved many parent helpers and community members.


The benches are installed in the Junior School and in daily use. They are a reminder that we are never alone. There are always others who hold us up.


See Graham’s website – Commissions: Paper and Spoke

Gillian and Graham

Gillian and Graham


Gillian (Gill) King studied Early Childhood Education at Barkly House Teacher’s College in Cape Town. She was Principal of a small Pre-Primary School for many years, before emigrating to Australia. Prior to emigrating, she did a Further Diploma in Education: Art, through the Cape Town Teacher’s College (moderated By the University of Cape Town). She has had the privilege of teaching at Tranby College for 20 years, most of that time as the Junior School Art Specialist. Additionally, she has completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership through the University of Western Australia.

Gillian is committed to developing peoples understanding of the importance of the Arts. She believes that the Arts enriches peoples understanding of the world and provides opportunities for meaningful engagement with others through the development of ideas and self-expression.