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Culture vulture

Dominic Madden reveals art to his pupils through their signatures

Best book ever

The Castle by Franz Kafka. The journey from blind optimism to continuous struggle is a poignant expression of the human condition; the business of trying to keep sane in the face of overwhelming bureaucracy is true to modern life.

Best film ever

Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky and La Haine by Mathieu Kasovitz are both beautifully shot in black and white. Andrei Rublev, the story of a Russian icon painter, is a magical film full of astonishing imagery, such as Rublev in a balloon flying from the top of a church. A magical film. La Haine (the moral tale of three Parisian street children who come across a gun in a riot and have to decide what to do with it) is beautiful to watch, especially the panoramic shots over tower blocks to amazing hip-hop music.

Best on show

The El Greco exhibition at the National Gallery (last spring) brought home to me the virtuosity of the painter. The way he painted faces and bodies in a loose and free manner showed an incredible understanding of the medium and seemed so modern.

Best resource

I often use children's signatures as a starting point for art work. I get pupils to write their signature and show them how to make it look three-dimensional. I also use The Great Artists of the Western World series, published by Marshall Cavendish, because there are about 96 magazines each offering a bite-sized, well presented summary of an artist's life and works. At my current school, I use Graffiti World: street art from five continents by Nicholas Ganz and Tristan Manco (Thames Hudson) to show how material these pupils relate to can be presented beautifully and on a grand scale.

To share with pupils

The Tate Modern and the Saatchi Gallery (pictured) are brilliant for getting pupils to talk about art. Installations of a mountain of dead rats or a tank of fish swimming among dentists' equipment are attention-grabbing. Adults have attached such significance to these objects it's important for pupils to see them.

Dominic Madden, 32, is a permanent supply teacher in PE and art at Ian Mikardo high school for boys with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. He is also a freelance artist and artist-in-residence. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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