Asking pupils to produce a drawing of a trainer has become an art teaching cliche, though if the exercise is repeated each year it remains a useful way of assessing pupils' progress in observation. The activity can be extended by making a replica of a favourite trainer in clay, either modelling it from a solid piece or rolling out slabs and using pieces of the dismantled trainer as a template. Be more imaginative by asking pupils to cover an old trainer with white emulsion and then decorate it in the style of an artist, for instance dabs of pale paint for the Impressionists, dribbles and splashes like the Abstract Expressionists, or florid foliage in the style of William Morris. Everyone in the school can then wear them on the last day of term.
As the trainer is a now a youngperson's style icon, pupils will rise to the challenge of researching its changing appearance. Their task will then be to create their own personal design, be it retro or futuristic, for a particular target group of teenagers, inventing a new name and logo to go with it. They must also produce promotional material and an advertising campaign for the target audience. Then look at Magritte's painting of a bare foot with laces, "Le Mod le Rouge", Man Ray's flat iron with metal tacks, "Gift", and Oppenheim's fur-covered teacup, "Breakfast in Fur". Ask pupils to design and produce in clay a Surrealist trainer that cannot be worn. It could combine part of an actual trainer with part of an organic object such as a vegetable, or possess an animal's eyes, teeth or horns, or even have headlights and bumpers.