In the artcomputer room at Holy Family High School, Liverpool, the Year 9s are intent on manipulating an image of a woman in a colourful, beaded headdress. This is www.treacletart.net in action. Treacletart offers to all schools on the net a digital image they can download and manipulate, and a chance for students to post their new versions on the internet and have them judged in a competition. All you need is a software package such as Paintshop Pro.
The idea came from Phil Callow, head of art at Christ the King RC comprehensive, Southport. "In 1999 we acquired a powerful stand-alone pentium PC and my classes began to use Paintshop Pro 5, Painter and Bryce to manipulate digital images," he explains. But it was the internet possibilities discovered through the ICLMEON project that gave Callow the idea of the Treacletart competition. ICLMEON is a joint industry and government initiative across Merseyside that encourages both local cultural heritage awareness and education in ICT skills.
So last summer he created Treacletart. "One of my A-level art students, Russell Dunphy, and I came in during the holidays. We got ICLMEON interested, and they offered two digital cameras as prizes," says Mr Callow. Why Treacletart? "It's a name people remember - and it ends in a-r-t."
He hopes to receive a total of 50 entries befoe judging begins, and the judges will be the users of the website.
Back at Holy Family school, more entries for Treacletart are in production. Tracy Kellaway, head of art at the 1,000-strong mixed comprehensive, says the school is not well-endowed with computers, but at least has Paintshop Pro 5. "The pupils start out thinking it's going to be really easy," she says, "but then discover it takes a long time to get the results they want."
Student Sarah Yates thinks the given image "is a good one to work on", and has tried different tones and outlines. Tom Halligan had difficulty at first with getting a brick wall-overlay to work, but ended up with an imaginative design.
Some students reduce the image, others turn it into a big close-up. They try a "hot wax" coating, and they spray soft lines on the face. Jenna Medcalf has similar software at home. "I took one side of the face and put a light on it, and then some colour on the other side," she says.
One middle school, Mereway in Northampton, has already posted 12 images on the website. Emma Sherratt, who teaches at Mereway, says her Years 56 really enjoy it: "They spent two weeks going over the tools and choosing the effects they wanted."
Teachers interested in entering the competition should e-mail Phil Callow first: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web: www.treacletart.netFor ICLMEON see web: www.merseygrid.co.uk