Art

7th January 2000 at 00:00
In the tangible world of art, based in its oils, clay and glitter glue, the movement to technology can seem somewhat inappropriate. As a modern medium, computers are significantly changing and enhancing the status of art in education. Many schools use the Web as a glorified display board, replacing the kitchen fridge as the means for children to show off their artwork. Others have embraced ICT completely, using technology creatively to produce an art form in itself.

Arteducation.co.uk has been running a pilot of an online school art gallery project, organised through Cardiff LEA, involving six primary schools and one secondary school. Formerly called SchoolArt, the Internet publishing company programmed database-driven galleries and linked the input from the pupils via teacher in-service and online projects on the website.

Each school was connected to the Internet and provided with free access to the units of work contained in the arteducation.co.uk database. The pupils' creations were then recorded in the online gallery, currently totalling about 600, to which new material is added each week.

"The Web allows us to reproduce thousands of artworks at a minuscule cost, and it's so simple - we just digitally photograph the artworks, then we put them on the website," says Nigel Meager, of arteducation.co.uk.

According to Meager, the concept aims to develop the link between school and home. "All children love to show their parents what they've done at school. Now we have kids in Cardiff whose grandparents in Birmingham can see their art on the Web. From the local authority's point of view, it brings schools together and facilitates communication, as pupils and staff from different schools can share and compare their ideas."

Participating teachers attended three training courses about digital photography and the potential that the Web offers to support their art teaching, so that they can continue the project on their own. There are also plans to extend the project to secondary schools.

The liaison between arteducation.co.uk and Cardiff LEA, and also involving NSEAD (National Society for Education in Art and Design) and TAG Developments, led to the realisation of the need for a primary art group. With no national advisory body or LEA staff dedicated to the subject, there is little support for primary school art coordinators and teachers with a special interest in the arts. Talks are now under way to form a professional group, in which teachers can register their interest at TAG's stand at BETT.

Tony Wheeler, managing director TAG, believes art teachers need to try harder to achieve recognition. "This unhealthy obsession with literacy and numeracy is edging creativity out of the curriculum. Art needs to regain the high ground, but thishas been prevented by snobbery in parts of the art world - people not wanting to incorporate technology. I see the creative use of ICT as the perfect escape route to regaining ground."

An example of this redirection is the company's enduring HyperStudio, which began as a science product but has since "found a better home" in art. "Art teachers are much more open to putting aside the theory and letting creativity in," says Wheeler. "They use the program to create digital environments and animated scenery, and pupils can create portfolios and slide shows to see the growth of their real media artwork."

TAG will exhibit HyperStudio (pound;99.95 single user; pound;299.95 five-users) at BETT, and provide online access to arteducation.co.uk, alongside the companies' joint proposition for the primary art group.

If you want images supplied, Electronic Studio, by Anglia Multimedia, has thematic visual sets of resources including flowers, boats, animals, skeletons and multicultural images. It provides student coursework examples linking visual resources with computer-generated ideas, leading to extension work in drawing, painting, printmaking and sculpture. The CD-Rom costs pound;55 (10-user licence).

While at the show, you may also be interested in visiting d2. This digital design company publishes Artworks Visual Art Resource Packs (pound;17.50). The booklet contains art activities, such as masks and puppet making, which explore drug issues for young people.

Also, Prim-Ed Publishing produces photocopiable resource books for lower, middle and upper school pupils. The cross-curricular activities in Using Technology in the Classroom (pound;12.95) cover fine art, utilising CD-Roms, tape recorders, cameras, TV, video and software packages.

Visual art is strongly featured in Headstrong Interactive's Over the Nightmare Ground: British Poetry from two World Wars. The CD-Rom includes reproductions from the Imperial War Museum's Collection with accompanying articles about war art.

Art is also a strong part of the contextual material in The English Romantic Poets. This program provides access to artworks from the period, sourced from the collections of the Wordsworth Trust and the Fitzwilliam Museum. Selected Blake Songs of Innocence and Experience are supported by the original prints and an article on Blake and printmaking. Other featured works of art include watercolours by Turner, hand-coloured plates from Bewick's British Birds, and various oil paintings. Each networked program costs pound;85 for a site licence (up to 30 concurrent users).

Anglia Multimedia Stand: F44www.anglia.co.ukd2 Stand: SW99www.d2digital.co.ukHeadstrong Interactive Stand:Q46 www.headstrong.demon.co.ukPrim-Ed Publishing Stand: P7www.prim-ed.comTAG Developments Stand: F50www.tagdev.co.uk


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