The King's School's Main Hall was covered in snakes for a special day dedicated to the wonders of Ancient Egypt. It might not have been Indiana Jones's Temple of Doom, but it was certainly breath-taking inspiration for around 100 young people from across Macclesfield who took part in the King's School's annual Art Competition.
Talented young artists in Years 3 to 6 from five local primary schools were invited to their fabulous new campus to learn about the culture and customs of a society that developed some 3,000 years before Christ.
The children from Broken Cross Primary, Wilmslow Prep School, Whirley Primary, Parkroyal and Upton Priory then used their new knowledge as the inspiration for their own artwork for King's annual art competition, with the winning entries to be put on display in Macclesfield Library.
The day saw a cornucopia of wonders, with the children handling snakes, bearded dragons and owls, which like cats were all venerated in the time of the pharaohs. There were also sculptures to handle and hieroglyphics from an ancient tomb to translate.
A range of top experts from Macclesfield's wonderful Silk Museum, including Egyptologist Bryony Renshaw, also talked to the children about social conditions in the cities and the countryside, ancient Egyptian art and how their society changed through the millennia.
The girls and boys were asked to unravel the mystery of Shebmut, whose sarcophagus has been a star exhibit in Macclesfield for nearly 150 years and translate the hieroglyphics for a modern audience.
Macclesfield's special connection with ancient Egypt was also explained as the children were told of the adventures of pioneers Marianne Brocklehurst, one of Macclesfield's famed Silk magnate family, and her friend Mary Booth.
They made five separate tours of the Nile in the mid to late Nineteenth Century collecting, sketching and then reviewing a vast range of around 400 artefacts which they then brought back to the industrial North. First housed in the West Park Museum, which was specially build by the Brocklehurst family for the collection, the 400 odd artefacts include not only the stunning sarcophagus but also shabti figurines and scarab beetle amulets among many fascinating objects.
Egyptologist Bryony Renshaw said: "I remember when I was these children's age that I so wanted to be able to decipher the hieroglyphics. I hope they will share that same fascination and it too will lead them into wanting to learn more and more."
Principal of King’s Infant & Junior Division, Rachel Cookson, said: "We realise we have something very special in our new school and very much want to give something back to our local community.
"Our own pupils will spend the next few days sharing the same experience, but we wanted to set aside a very special day for our friends in our partner local schools."
Natalie Lane, from the Silk Museum added: "The Silk Museum is packed with international and local treasures that everyone is welcome to come and explore between 10 am and 4pm, from Wednesday to Saturday. We are planning a full programme of events this coming half-term to celebrate our Ancient Egyptian collection and would love to see you there. It has been great working with Kings on their Art Week and we were wowed by the masterpieces produced by the children."
The last words fell to the excited children. James from Wilmslow Prep said: "I loved the snakes and the bearded dragons."
While Florence from Parkroyal Community School added: "I didn’t want to pick up the snake at first but then I didn’t want to put her down."
Photo: Pictured (top) at the back are Mrs Cookson, Natalie Lane and Bryony Renshaw and at the front with one of the snakes are Scott from Broken Cross, Florence from Park Royal, Max from Whirley, Riley from Upton Priory and James From Wilmslow Prep.
Visitors can view the art upstairs in Macclesfield Library.