Creating art from architecture

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
Linking the past with the present gives a subject significance that can sometimes be the difference between whether is child switched on or not. As a teacher of art and design I am forever commenting on how lazily we look at the world around us. Buildings are largely ignored unless we have an interest in the built environment. Building design is crucial to how we live, interact and ultimately survive.

My school has a fine old building that dates back to the late Elizabethan period, but I point out to pupils that its components are pretty much the same as most buildings today - it has walls, a roof and windows.

With the aid of a digital camera my Year 5 group made a record of the tall brick facade. Before we went back to the classroom we had a closer look at the slender Tudor bricks and how they had been bonded together. We then looked at a more recent wall - the bricks were fatter and laid differently.

This helped to focus the children on detail.

"I thought we were doing Greek temples," said one child. "We are," I replied, and handed out pictures of a Doric temple in Greece, while photos of the house were printing out.

Using the temple's basic structure as a guide, the children drew its simple outline (pediment, column, base) over the top of the photograph of the house, revealing the intrinsic similarities between the two.

This led to a discussion about materials - brick, stone, wood and concrete - which finally led to the finer details of Greek architecture.

The children produced a drawing or painting of the house and the temple.

The temple was labelled with the names of some of its basic parts.

This was followed by the construction of a clay temple facade, using pliable wire as a frame.

Donald Short Head of art and ICT, Moyles Court School, Hampshire

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