Pupils across north London have created digital and hand drawn memes to show how they felt during lockdown as part of an interactive artwork.

The idea came from Ella James, head of art and design at City of London Academy Highbury Grove. Inspired by artists such as Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger, she developed the project during the recent lockdown, teaching students how to use a range of media to describe their mood at a challenging time.

“As we went into another lockdown, our priority was to develop a project that allowed the students’ mental state to be the focus," she said.

"By learning new skills in digital media, typography and self-portraiture, students could express their mood of the day. Memes are already a currency for communication in our students’ lives and by tapping into this, we were able to form a picture of how they were coping at home.”

Now contributions by students from 10 schools including Highbury Grove, Highgate Hill, Shoreditch Park, and City of London Primary Academy Islington will be included in an interactive digital artwork #Mood, released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.

The collaborative artwork, created by media artist Stuart Batchelor for Culture Mile – the City of London’s cultural district - can be seen from May 12 at www.culturemile.london.

Using a webcam, it maps the viewer with the students’ memes appearing across their face like pixels, and allows them to interact with the works like a digital mirror.

Teachers worked with students to create their memes, then Batchelor held online workshops with a selection of them to develop digital drawings which informed the artwork’s final design.

"As an artist, the opportunity to work with and teach the students about software art was something I was really excited about," he said.

"The #Mood project gave students an outlet to create during the pandemic and highlighted the importance of art adapting to global circumstances. It turned something isolating into a positive, social and creative experience."

The project is part of Culture Mile’s Imagine, a season of programmes, events and activities supporting residents, visitors, pupils, businesses and workers to take an active role in the area’s long-term vision.

“#Mood is a wonderfully innovative project that speaks to the times that we are in and puts pupils’ welfare and wellbeing at the heart of it," said Caroline Haines, chair of the City of London Corporation's Education Board.

"These poignant, touching and often funny artworks are a result of an ongoing and fruitful collaboration between the City Family of Schools and Culture Mile Learning.”

This title's sister newspaper is hosting Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health on Friday May 21. It is a day of free online events on the topic of mental health. Register for free here.