ArtRE - Served on the rocks

16th November 2012 at 00:00

What it's all about

What might our distant ancestors have believed? When they created cave paintings, were they simply for decoration, or a way to celebrate their religion? These were the questions posed to key stage 1 pupils at Linton CofE Infant School in Cambridge when they were visited by freelance RE consultant Durga-Mata Chaudhuri for a cave-painting workshop, writes Victoria Walden.

Rock paintings decorate caves across the world, giving us clues to early man's lifestyle. But they also raise many questions. Pupils were asked to consider why animals are so prominent in the paintings. Is it because they were important as food? Were the paintings communications with animals' spirits? Or were they a form of worship?

After studying cave paintings from Europe and Africa, pupils became cave painters. They used materials available to their ancestors 20,000 years ago and made pictures inspired by the paintings they had seen. They created black paint using soil, ochre paint from sand and a white paste by mixing chalk with clay.

Pupils may believe in a different god from their peers and their ancestors. But the minerals and animals Stone Age people relied on, or even worshipped, are still important today. Cave painting is a great way to explore what draws pupils closer together regardless of faith.

What else?

See an outline of durgamata's cave painting workshop, bit.lytesCavePainting, and for more of durgamata's resources on the TES website, visit bit.lytesDurgaMata. Watch Werner Herzog's film Cave of Forgotten Dreams for an exploration of the paintings in the cave of Chauvet-Pont-D'Arc. For a scheme of work on early man, see potatosoup's topic plan, bit.lytesEarlyMan.

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