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Art

KS2-4

Show pupils "Snowstorm, Steamboat off a Harbour Mouth" by JMW Turner exhibited in 1842. Many regard this as the ultimate British sea painting, in which Turner was "painting sensation". Though Turner claimed he was actually on this boat, strapped to the mast as it struggled into the harbour in rough seas near Harwich, research shows that this was not true.

This work exhibits the blurring of strokes and the absence of detail that, it is claimed, influenced some Impressionists and even the Abstract Expressionists. Comparing this work with his earlier paintings will heighten pupils' awareness of the potential of these later gestural expressive painting techniques. Do not ask pupils simply to copy the work.

Instead, after discussion, take them outside into an area with soft ground and tell them to revolve round and round with their arms outstretched until they are so giddy they have to sit down. Ask them to observe how this confuses and blurs their vision, producing an effect similar to that of being whirled around by a heaving sea. When back in the art room pupils recall and record this, using loose media such as oil pastel or paint, rubbing and scratching into the surface in the way that Turner worked.

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