Lesson ideas: Art
Though the specific theme of this article is unsuitable as a stimulus for art activities with younger pupils, the general theme of China and its art is a rich source. Primary pupils love dragons and there are many in Chinese art (see www.chinapage.comdragon1.html). The Nine Dragon wall in Beijing consists of 424 ceramic tiles featuring dragons - show pupils this before dividing pupils in groups, each group having to design a large dragon on an A1 sized sheet of paper. When completed cut these into smaller standard tile shapes, each of which will have a piece of the dragon on, producing individual templates from which each pupil has to produce a tile with an incised and impressed image which when fitted together will make the complete class "Dragon Wall". Glue the tiles onto a wall as a permanent feature.
Show pupils the work of the contemporary Chinese artist Lu Peng, who is preoccupied with the metamorphosis of Chinese society (see www.chinesecontemporary.comartist). His technique is traditionally Chinese, working with ink on paper, but the subject matter is a combination of images and text mixing the traditional, the Communist and the new consumer. Ask pupils to gather together a range of diverse images related to a personal, political or social theme of concern to them - the collection may include consumer symbols and the written word. Use Adobe Photoshop to manipulate these images, then print them out and assemble them on a larger canvas as a collage, further developing the composition with paint and adding text. The stylistically similar work of the American pop artist Robert Rauschenberg (see "Retroactive 1, 1964") and Jean-Michel Basquiat (see "Hollywood Africans, 1983") will provide additional contemporary American references.