Feat of clay

2nd November 2007 at 00:00

Moulding Mini Me - sculpture helps children see themselves in more ways, says Jeanette Weinstock. Ourselves In Portrait is a tried and tested lesson that combines art and design with science in a quick-fire project producing sculptural self- portraits.

Antony Gormley's artwork Field for the British Isles (pictured above) is a good way to prompt initial discussion about self: the statues look similar but all are different. Each child is then given air-drying clay the size of a tennis ball and asked to make a self-portrait. Children are incredibly experimental when investigating with 3D, but proportion is important and they should be reminded to use mirrors to look at their face and expressions.

Quickly eyes are punched in, noses nipped out, ears pulled to shape and mouths scratched in. At the end of the project pupils have been exposed to learning through visual, auditory and tactile experiences and confidently present practical responses with 3D drawings of themselves.

Extension work beyond the classroom can include cross-curricular visits to the National Portrait Gallery or the British Museum in London for developing awareness of portraiture in historical, cultural and contemporary art.

In art lessons, add relief pieces to clay using "score slip stitch" techniques, produce charcoal portrait drawings, make a class exhibition of painted dried sculptures. In science, produce a class study on facial features and present as a colourful graph. At every level, pupils develop skills.

Jeanette Weinstock teaches in London www.npg.org.uk www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk, www.haywardgallery.org.uk www.qca.org.uk www.standards.dfes.gov.uk

Learning objectives

Art and Design: exploring and developing ideas investigating and making

Science: awareness of similarities and differences between humans

Literacy: discussionkeywords

Numeracy: scaleproportion

Resources

Primary

Book The Usborne series is brilliant for inspiring both teachers and children of all ages. There are activities for all abilities, topics and available resources. I particularly like The Usborne Book of Art Ideas by Fiona Watt (Usborne Publishing Ltd, pound;12.99)

Lucy Blackburn teaches at Holy Family Catholic Primary in Wortley, Leeds

Secondary

Visits - Awe-inspiring Gothic and Romanesque Cathedrals provide an excellent resource for teaching art at all levels with rich possibilities for crossover with other subjects. Most cathedrals have very helpful education departments and run innovative art programmes and exhibitions. Some have acquired works of contemporary art. For example, a beautiful work by Paula Rego is on display in Durham.

www.yorkminster.orglearning

www.salisburycathedral.org.uk education.php

www.durhamcathedral.co.ukeducation

www.lincolncathedral.com

Museums Temporary displays in the Tate Britain permanent collection show how 20th-century artists used historic buildings as a visual resource to explore contemporary themes. John Piper, room 20 - includes mixed media works and sketchbooks. Devastation, room 23 - poignant images by Piper, Armstrong, and Sutherland of bomb-damaged churches.

Book - The Cathedrals of England (Thames and Hudson, pound;7.95) by Alec Clifton-Taylor, an old classic to brush up your knowledge of English cathedrals so at least you can sound as if you know what you are talking about.

Elaine Williams.

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