Virtual gallery lets pupils share their art in lockdown

Practical subjects are tough to deliver remotely – but this school is ensuring pupils have an audience for their art

Emma Seith

Virtual gallery lets pupils share their art in lockdown

Back in the 1980s, children’s television presenter Tony Hart appreciated the motivational power of giving children an audience for their art.

His television shows Take Hart and Hartbeat always featured a camera (accompanied by suitably soothing music) gently tracking around The Gallery, a lovingly curated display space where a selection of drawings that had been sent by children in were on display. Would your efforts make the cut? You had to watch to find out.

Now, a Scottish school has taken this concept into the modern era and has found a new, high-tech and Covid-compliant way of giving its budding artists an audience for their creations.

Dalkeith High School, in Midlothian, is showcasing some of its pupils' art and design endeavours by means of virtual exhibitions, complete with a well-informed avatar guide who helps the viewer appreciate the skill it took to create the final work.

Art and design teacher Neil McDonald, who before working at the school was a freelance animator, said staff in his department had discussed how video cold encourage discussion among students.,

"I chose to make a virtual gallery within the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, partially because the game was such a huge cultural event at the beginning of last year's lockdown, and so my hope was that it would engage our young people because of this popularity," he said.

"The other reason was that because we can't really inhabit spaces outside of our own homes at the moment, the idea of creating a virtual space with the express purpose of exhibiting our learner's artwork had a particular appeal to me.

"My own background as a freelance animation practitioner meant that I was uniquely set up to deliver this idea with the technology that I have access to in my home."

Mr McDonald added: "I hope that the videos will engage young people through of the use of a video game that they will likely at least have heard of. It would be great if pupils felt more motivated to engage in their home learning for a chance to be recognised in our virtual gallery. I'm sure that it would be a great achievement for a young person to show off to their parent or carer too.

"Pupil response has been positive as we have received messages via our online learning platform that they have enjoyed the videos, partially because of their love of the game, but also how nice it was to see other pupils' work."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

Latest stories