Rivers Of The World

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Metal is currently working with Thames Festival Trust and Nene Park Trust to bring the national project ‘Rivers of the World’ to Peterborough. Below are details of the Rivers of the World programme for secondary schools, the 2020 exhibitions, the Story of Water (Primary Schools Programme) and a series of resources you might find of interest.


Rivers of the World exhibition
1st October – 31st October
Orton Mere and Thorpe Meadows (by the slalom course)

Visit this outdoor exhibition of beautiful river-inspired artwork  by young people from Peterborough & artists Jeni Cairns & Stuart Payn.

This year, young people in Peterborough have created a series of magnificent river-themed artworks by working remotely with artists Jeni Cairns and Stuart Payn. Due to international lockdowns, the work has been generated at home (rather than in school), using digital briefs or short films made by the artists to explore river themes and teach new creative skills. Peterborough Young Poet Laureate Faith Falayi provided a poem about the River Nene to inspire the public competition. The finished pieces show young people’s strength of spirit and imagination in the face of Covid-19. Their ideas come together through collective effort and the final designs are being exhibited around the world, connecting everyone, this year more aptly then ever!


About Rivers of the World:


Rivers of the World is an international art and education project delivered in partnership with the British Council that connects pupils around the globe to their local river through environmental, economic and cultural learning themes.

The two-year programme involves the pupils in the first-year learning about their local river and in the second about a river in another country. Peterborough has been partnered with schools in Rabat, Morocco. Rivers of the World encourages young people to explore and reflect on local and global issues and perspectives to build the skills they need for life and work in a global society.

Working with artists, who have been trained by lead artist Shona Watt, pupils learn and gather ideas that are channelled creatively into drawings, paintings, photographs and other visual media which result in the creation of a collective large-scale work of art. The artworks are then curated and exhibited in galleries, along the River Thames walkway, schools across the UK and around the world in partner countries.

Since its creation in 2005, Rivers of the World has been delivered in thirty countries around the world including Egypt, Turkey, China, Hungary, Thailand, Brazil, Indonesia, France, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, South Korea, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, Argentina, USA, Pakistan, Taiwan, and across the UK in London, Hull, Reading.

Rivers of the World is the Thames Festival Trust’s flagship art and education project delivered in partnership with British Council, Metal, Nene Park Trust and Nenescape. It is supported by Syntax Poetry Festival and the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme.





In Peterborough we are working with

  • Ormiston Bushfield Academy
  • Thomas Deacon Academy
  • St John Fisher Catholic High School
  • Queen Katherine Academy
  • Ken Stimpson Community School
  • City of Peterborough Academy


In 2019 artists Stuart Payn and Jeni Cairns worked with pupils at the school to create new art works about the river Nene. These were displayed in Autumn 2019 along the river at Orton Mere and Thorpe Meadows. Art works by artist Aicha El Beloui and pupils from schools in Rabat Morocco were also displayed, celebrating their own local river, Bouregreg.

In 2020 we worked with pupils on a schools competition. Due to Covid 19 we sent them digital resources and posted materials and resources to their homes. Artists Jeni Cairns and Stuart Payn created worksheets and films to inspire their new work. Art works from each school have been brought together in a series of banners. The banner designs are being displayed in Peterborough in October and also outside of Tate Modern, London, in September.

Schools in Peterborough have been successful in receiving funding from British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme. This will allow them to visit their partner schools in rabat, Morocco and for them to visit Peterborough. They will share teaching skills and be inspired by each others rivers.

You can see the full range of banners by young people in Peterborough and all the partner UK and international cities here 


Story of Water


Story of Water is the sister project to Rivers of the World. It is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and works with Primary Schools. It is a new art and geography based project designed to inspire teachers through creativity while meeting National Curriculum objectives in Geography at Key Stage 2. It has local and international ‘water’ and ‘river’ themes and involves a whole year group of Year 3 to 6 Key Stage 2 pupils.

The Story of Water involves the creation of an artwork / installation that is made collaboratively by all the pupils in the year group. The work is water-themed and can integrate the culture of their overseas partner school in Rabat Morocco. The project seeks to benefit teachers by giving them skills and confidence to apply art-based learning themselves in their own practice.


In Peterborough artists Stuart Payn and Jeni Cairns are working with:

  • The Beeches Primary School
  • Southfields Primary School
  • West Town Primary School
  • Orton Wistow Primary School
  • Leighton primary School
  • William Law C of E Primary School.


Teachers are provided with resources from their overseas country to enrich lesson plans plus art-based learning CPD and advice and guidance throughout involvement with the project.



You don’t have to be part of the Rivers of the World or Story of Water programmes to benefit from the resources available. You can download the worksheets by Jeni and Stuart here and there are links below to their films. Follow the links to find a whole host of other inspiring art activity films. There are also links to resources that help make the link between art, rivers and climate change. Let us know if these are useful.



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