Sharing Shorelines and Arts Award Discover

Pennington Junior School have taken part in Arts Award Discover at the Shorelines exhibition and created wonderful new pieces of work.

In this post we will share the programme which Year 4 and Year 5 took part in at the museum to complete their first Arts Award, as well as sharing a gallery of images illustrating the activities they took part in. The day was designed for a whole class, and 4 classes took part in total.

Getting started

The day began with the team introducing themselves to the class and welcoming them to the museum. This included Chris, the project’s poet in residence, Rebecca from Hampshire Cultural Trust, and myself. We provided an outline of the day and the children were presented with their Arts Award Discover booklet.

Together we talked through the different steps to achieve there Arts Award and what will happen after they complete the activities. At this stage we discussed ideas for sharing their work with other children and families. It was decided that Celebration Assembly was a good opportunity for presenting what they did and some thought creating a film of images was a good way to show all the children participating. We shared with them that we would also hold a celebration event at the museum early in the new year when the children will be presented with their certificates.

Discovering Art

A short exploration of the museum followed a discussion about the different art forms that surround us. Thinking about all the different art forms there are, we looked at objects within the museum to see how many matched an art form. Lots did, in fact we realised that anything that had been ‘designed’ by someone fit within an art form. This was also a great way to look at how objects that help us enjoy and create art forms have changed over time; for example we compared record players to cassette players, old ‘box brownie’ cameras with modern digital phones. A heated debate also developed with one group who argued whether trees were art. Many decided that ‘mother nature’ or, for some, God, was the greatest artist of all time, whilst others were harder to convince!

White Page Syndrome

Before we began looking at the artwork within the exhibition we led a warm up activity. Children were asked to sit opposite each other and draw each others face using the blind contour drawing method. This is a drawing exercise, where a person draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper, therefore making it necessary to not lift the pencil from the paper, creating a continuous line drawing.

Blind contour drawing may not produce a ‘good’ drawing in terms of likeness, but it is a useful warm up for a drawing session particularly for those that suffer from white page syndrome; the fear of starting a drawing and/or getting a drawing wrong. As everyone was asked to draw using the same technique no one could be identified as being the best at drawing, which can consequently knock the confidence of others. It also helps us practice drawing without relying on memorised drawing symbols. Blind contour drawing trains the eye and hand to work as a team, and it helps people to see all of the details of the object. A skill which is also important when looking at art in a gallery.

It is also a good introduction to abstract art and the non representational artwork in the exhibition, as well as bringing humour to art as for many seeing their distorted portraits was huge fun. As the normal rules did not apply, it felt ok to smile at the end result.

Art Looking

45 minutes was spent together looking at the art work in the exhibition. The pictures we chose to focus on and discuss varied depending on the age and interest of the class so it varied from day-to-day. We wanted to keep this activity child-led so we focused on artwork that was of interest to the children firstly. To help us explore the artwork we used slow looking and jumping in activities. This involves asking children to stand in front of an artwork and leading their eyes across it slowly, then asking them to imagine they have jumped into the picture and asking questions to help them explore it: Where are you in the picture? is it warm or cold? What can you hear? What is behind you? How do you feel?

We also shared a ‘gallery conversation’ around one artwork together using inquiry techniques and questions that led people into observation, description, interpretation and connection. We also used ‘picking sides’ and debating techniques to help children develop their persuasive language skills and deepen their engagement with the artwork; helping them to become critics of the work.

Workshops

The rest of the day (with lunch in between) was split into two workshops that the children carouseled between in two groups. One half of the class took part in a poetry making workshop and the other took part in an art making workshop, both inspired by artwork in the exhibition.

More details about these workshops will be posted shortly, together with updates from the children’s sharing activities and celebration event. We will also post poems produced during the day.

Art Making

Here is a gallery of images showcasing the art work produced over the days. Most of the workshops continued with the continous line exercise using photos from the museum collection as the focus. Using this technique, and mixed media, we examined ways of creating abstract images from respresentational ones. We also looked at Ben Nicholson’s ‘Mousehole’ with year 5 and explored the way he combined landscape with still life.

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