Wednesday 9 May 2012

‘Spiders, dancers and drama!' - the April school holiday workshops with the 9-12 year olds

In each holiday workshop for the 9-12 year olds we visited a work of art in the Degas to Dalí exhibition. We had a discussion in front of each work of art to gather inspiration and ideas to take back studio. In the studio we experimented with materials to create our own works of art in response to what we saw and discussed, as well as our own ideas.

On Tuesday’s workshop we focused on Alexander Calder’s hanging mobile. Looking carefully we all saw the spider in this abstract work of art. We loved the way the sculpture moved with the breeze caused by people entering the gallery space, and thought that the artist might be interested in nature, wind and balance. Back in the studio, the children worked with wire to create their own sculptures. It was a challenging material to work with but we all thought it I was worth the hard work! Take at look at these!

Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril, 1899
Lithograph in coloured inks on paper
Scottish National Gallery, © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland

 On Wednesday we sat in front of Toulouse-Lautrec’s painting Jane Avril and used her costume, body language and facial expression to explore the work of art. We compared Toulouse-Lautrec’s work to Japanese prints to focus our attention on the flatness of the paint, and took the main ideas about posture, expression and flat colour back to the studio to create some dramatic figurative paintings.

Our final workshop focused on the popular and oversized Roy Lichtenstein painting In the Car. The children immediately identified that it reminded them of a comic and enjouyed the idea that something normally small and ‘everyday’ had been made so large. The idea that the scene was a moment in a larger story sparked some great discussion as we imagined what had happened before this scene – why was the man scowling? why was the woman annoyed? Armed with an understanding of how lines were used to indicate movement, and how facial expression and extreme close-up were used to heighten drama, the children painted their own large and dramatic moments to great effect!

The Gallery Educators and I had a fantastic time with the 9-12 year olds. The knowledge and enthusiasm that they brought to each workshop created a real feeling of excitement. Observers commented that the atmosphere in the Studio reminded them of their days at art school! The way they shared ideas, suggestions and positive feedback with each other created a communal learning environment that we were very excited to see!

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