Art all can appreciate

20th February 2004 at 00:00
Art Themes: Creative learning at the Hunterian Art Gallery Monica Callaghan and Christine McGonigal 5-14, Intermediate 2, Higher pound;25 Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery tel 0141 330 5431

In preparing an induction to The Hunterian for primary pupils, Glasgow University's gallery has compiled an art pack with much wider appeal, writes Deedee Cuddihy

The original idea was to produce a leaflet to introduce primary schools to the collections at Glasgow University's Hunterian Art Gallery. However, this grew into a substantial and beautifully presented package of art appreciation materials aimed at the 5-14 curriculum but also covering Intermediate 2 and Higher art and design.

Art Themes, subtitled Creative learning at the Hunterian Art Gallery, contains 40 A4 full-colour illustrations of paintings and sculptures - even a Mackintosh table - backed up by worksheets and information (on the artists, the art works, glossaries and so on), all on thin, high-quality card.

Developed over three years, the pack was produced by the Hunterian's education officer, Monica Callaghan, with Christine McGonigal, an art teacher in East Dunbartonshire primary schools.

The art works are divided into five themes, covering abstract, landscape and still life paintings, portraits and 3D forms. Each theme and every page has a colour logo for easy identification.

The language used throughout the pack is intelligent but non-threatening, aimed at primary teachers who may not have much prior knowledge of art (there is a step-by-step guide on how to appreciate a work of art) and high school pupils who may be working on their own.

In an introduction to still life, for example, we read: "Artists from the past to the present have chosen the subject matter of their still life pictures from everyday objects such as flowers, fruit, vegetables and fish.

Ordinary kitchen and household items - jugs, vases, crockery and furniture - have also formed the basis of still life painting. Musical instruments, with their distinct form and shape, have been used by artists to create intriguing types of pictures."

In the portraits and portraiture section we read that: "Artists who paint or draw portraits seek to communicate physical likeness, character, mood, social status or a mix of all of these. Historical or modern, formal or casual, the artist has to set the scene with the person he or she has chosen to paint."

One Glasgow art teacher was impressed with the pack's quality of reproduction.

"Most art teachers have to make up their own art studies materials and we spend a lot of time searching for stuff on the Internet, printing it out and photocopying, not always with great results," he said.

"It's also good to see that the Hunterian pack includes word banks and glossaries of art terms, as well as questions about the visual elements in all the featured art works.

"Visually, the pack seems strongest on landscape, sculpture and still life, less strong on portraits and abstract work.

"It ought to work particularly well for primary schools as an introduction and guide to art appreciation, for both teachers and pupils."

Another teacher was also impressed, but concerned about the pound;25 price tag. "I'm not sure if my head of department would be willing to spend that much money on it," she said, "but I think it represents good value for money for primary schools who are starting art studies from scratch."

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