Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Art - A Brush with the Unusual: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Art - A Brush with the Unusual: Resources

Article excerpt

Sometimes the best lessons don't take place in a classroom.

Over the years I have experienced some extraordinary classroom settings: performing the pre-Bosworth speeches from Richard III with pupils at Nottingham Castle; conducting a Greek myths workshop in an atmospheric Gothic hall; and holding a "ghosts and suspense" session in a haunting decommissioned primary school building.

I recently taught an experimental "active approaches" workshop at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London, designed to give Year 3 pupils from a Croydon primary an interactive experience of the spectacular paintings on show.

The theme of the workshop was "children" - ideal when numerous images of the young are on show throughout the gallery. In the hour-long class I focused on five images and used a variety of drama-based techniques to develop pupils' understanding.

First stop: Carracci's 1580s painting St Francis in Meditation. Having discussed the image of St Francis praying in a cave beneath winged infants, or cherubim, we shifted the focus to the historical details of his life. The most excited discussion was prompted by his love of preaching to the birds and by how easily he had discarded a life of comfort.

The children's favourite was the tale of St Francis' taming the wolf that had terrorised the people of Gubbio in Italy. The whole class became involved in playing St Francis and the wolf.

Asking the children about their favourite food was a good introduction to Nicolas Poussin's 1637 The Nurture of Jupiter, which shows the young god suckling the teats of the goat Amalthea (the source of much appalled delight). …

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