Saturday, July 01, 2006

Tale of two visits

The visit today after work was on my own - I had been invited to Radley College to the Art department.

Fantastic work and a very enjoyable way to start the weekend. It seemed strange to go back to Abingdon, driving past the Hospital my eldest son was born in, past the shop my grandparents family owned before they emigrated to Canada, andtravelling past Denman College- I waved for you Gill!

Anyway I digress as usual - I promised yesterday to tell you some more about our trip to London.

When we got to the British Museum, a very excited band of students were eager to get inside, and they were suitably impressed by the glass roof and rotunda that greated them. First stop was the shop, which is in the centre. This might seem a bit odd, but the conveniences are sited very close, so it seemed the appropriate place to start.

We then went to the Africa Gallery first, really a fantastic opportunity for them to unwind and orientate themselves to viewing exhibits.

Plenty to see, and as we had studied masks as their first project they could easily relate to the designs they saw, they also enjoyed the patterning which they encountered and the use of unusual materials.

This is a quilt made from the foil cap wrapping from gin bottles and other drinks, why ? was the question from the students. I suggested.........because you can. That started the debate. How can that be a quilt? It is not nice and snuggly and it won't keep you warm! I suspect you, the quilters amongst you , are thinking - it hasn't got 3 layers so doesn't qualify as a quilt!

Students perused the exhibits and admired, and then there was one they looked at quite casually, it was displayed openly, but I knew they had not really looked. So started to ask them - what material has the artist used. (The title was the tree of life). The answer came back - metal- so nothing odd there then ? I asked them to look properly and tell me again what the answer was. Can you tell from the photos?

A video plays in a corner explaining the tree of life, the students hadn't noticed it though. I explained the meaning of the title and that the sculpture was made from gun parts, that had been confiscated. Suddenly the interest and discussion changed.......the digital cameras were recording the tree and notes were being made and the video was watched. The students certainly held strong views about guns. Social comment on another culture is difficult, but the artists would have been pleased with the way these students were understanding the meaning and relevance of this sculpture. A good lesson! It was time for lunch and we scuttled off to the dungeons to eat our packed lunch. One of the students had bought some play dough in the shop, so we all had a go at making Stone Henge and the Avebury stones, such fun. After lunch was time for the drawing and sketching of the focus for the visit. The reason we had come to the British Museum - you will recall we have been working on clay tiles and using Van Gogh as an inspiration for the design.

Students were not disappointed by what they saw. We were going to go to room 42 and study the medieval tiles.

We talked about incised tiles, relief tiles, shaped tiles, glazed tiles and there were all the examples in front of us.

As you can see a wealth of visual delights, if you can visit - do take the opportunity. My students loved it - and if 14 year olds can come away from the museum feeling inspired and not wishing to stop their sketching - it must be good!

We also managed to catch 2 drawing exhibitions that had just started, the students liked the french drawings particularly. I had great trouble getting them away from the exhibition and back onto the coach.


Carol said...

Oh Maggie, I realy want to be in your class :)sounds like a wonderful visit

Carol said...

oops, looking at my spelling, perhaps I should go back and do English LOL

Stitching with Schnauzer and Siamese said...

Carol, Art is much more fun than English and it is so easy to express yourself in Art. You can join my class anytime, your special talents are most welcome.

Maggie H