6th Class came to visit the Theresa Nanigian exhibition Clann at the Municipal Gallery at DLR Lexicon. Full attendance for the first time this term from 6th Class so we had a big group and all in high spirits! Full of energy and chat!
We began by looking around the gallery and then focused on the image of the music band (not sure of the title) because I overheard one of the lads say they recognised someone in the image. So we talked about what were the connections within the group – music as they all had instruments, possibly related as a family or possibly parent and children – but also that they live locally. So this gave a link to the county. On to the Residents – the group reckoned while they were not related to each other but maybe were friends because how close they were to each other. Conversation about whether it was done using a green screen so how the image was composed or created. They are photographs. Suggestion of linking to the group of doctors and nurses – are they the carers of the Residents?
With the 6th Class group I was trying to explore the idea of groups and how groups are formed – for example the swimmers – were they friends before they began swimming together, do they go swimming together or do they just see each other there and have a chat – they are engaged in an activity that links them and connects them. What groups are they a part of? Is it a family group? Are they friends? Is it a sporting team? Is it a group who you go to the cinema with? Hang out with? Do you engage in an activity together? Is there a group you used to be part of? What does it mean to be part of a group?
Mr.Watt was interested in how the class had commented on the work and felt they were not very in depth in their questioning of the work….so he asked them if they could see any stereotypes in the artworks – so discussion around what is a stereotype with examples given by the class. This gave the group another way of reviewing the work – so Mr.Watt set the class the task of looking at the work again and pointing out stereotypes and if the artwork compounds or contradicts the stereotypes. So for example the group in the hospital – all the nurses are female and the doctor is male. Yet we might think that all rescue workers are male and there is a female rescue worker. So we looked at gender balance in the photographs. The swimmers are made up of half male, half female.
We also tried to get the class to examine whether they felt they – as a group of 6th class/ 11-12 year old of multiple nations and ethnicity were represented in the groups portrayed in this exhibition. Is the diversity of their school with approximately 15 nations visible in this exhibition. Tricky question and tricky conversation. Good to try and open up the conversation and get them thinking and their point of view.
Back in the Project Room each student drew a group portrait of a group they are either part of, were part of or would like to be part of (their wording) – these included family, friends, cricket teams, football teams. Hopefully get a chance to have a look at these next week.
First Class and Horizons came to visit the exhibition Clann by Theresa Nanigian at the Municipal Gallery, DLR Lexicon. This exhibition is work developed by the artist over two years where she met with groups in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County and photographed them, taking them out of context so the focus is on their connections as a group. We began with the image Residents. The discussion with the group was initially around pointing out what was the same about the people, what was different, colour hair, clothes, wheelchairs. Were they related? Some felt that they might live together or go somewhere together but that the photograph was taken in a photographic studio. Were they all the same age? All pretty old – between 60 and 100. Maybe they had some people to look after them because they had sore legs.
Then onto the Forty Foot Swimmers – where were they swimming? Were they friends? Yes – maybe they trained together, maybe they were a boys team and a girls team. Through close looking we saw that some might have already been in swimming. But it also looked like it was in a studio. We talked about where you might see these swimmers, what would be behind them – the sea or a swimming pool? And then the chefs from the Yacht Club – firstly it was suggested they were pilots because of their uniforms, then sailiors because they had flags on their uniforms….and maybe a pirate at the back? Then on reading the labels on their jackets it was discovered they were chefs in a restaurant. We talked about whether they were family, friends or work together or maybe work together and are friends.
So having looked at these group portraits we were now going to make mixed up portraits – confused??? Yes everyone was confused!
Start again….fold the paper strips into four parts – head at the top – fold it down – swap with someone else – draw the body – fold it down – swap with someone else – draw the legs – swap with someone else – draw the feet. Open them up and there your have confused and mixed up portraits! I thought there might be some tears and upset in the class as the students have strong ownership over their artworks – but it all happened so quick and the portraits were whizzing around the room so there was no time for tears! And they looked fab!!!
As with First Class group we have had three week break so the focus of this six week block – as discussed with the class as to what they want to work on – puppets and developing sets was suggested at the beginning of the year. And as we are visiting Theresa Nanigian’s exhibition – Clann at Municipal Gallery, DLR LexIcon next week I thought this could be a good starting point to discuss groups, body language, facial expression, gesture, action. We began by having a long discussion about the above photographic artwork by John Byrne. Great discussion around the family connections in the image, who was doing what, who is engaged, what are there emotions, has something happened, is something going to happen, is it a heist on the GPO? Multiple suggestions and observations around possible scenarios.
We then did a short drama exercise – breaking into groups and given the work ESCAPE. The groups had 5 minutes to compose a still image or freeze frame image that expressed the word – using themselves, body language, gesture and action. In the short time given the groups worked quickly and inventively using the classroom as set – with prison escapes, school escapes and bank robbery escapes.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be developing a marionette style puppet. (I explained to the class that puppets are not my strong point and I have not made this model of puppet before so we are embarking on this experimental journey together!). In preparation for that and building on the earlier conversations we developed characters breaking it down into head, body, bottom, legs looking at the different shapes used to express the character. We will make a basic model/ template using string and clay and then build on them to individualise them (Fingers crossed!).
Back after three weeks and mid term so in this six week block we are going to build on our construction skills and also think about portraits. We will be going to see Theresa Nanigian exhibition in the Municipal Gallery in dlr LexIcon and her exhibition focuses on photographic portraits of groups in the county. More about that next week.
So to get us thinking we spent some time looking at the above artwork. We talked about who the person might be? Was it a child or a man but small in stature. Was he going to fight? Where was he galloping to on the horse? Or was it a unicorn? Were there mountains behind? Was he going to the water? Was it the Sugar Loaf in Wicklow? A lot of interesting observations and comments to keep the conversation going! We used this too talk about posture, pose and body language.
We then began looking in our mirrors and looking at different facial expressions – how are face changes shape, how are eyebrows, eyes, mouth, nose all move and change shape when we change our expressions – sad, happy, surprise, sleepy and shocked. We then selected a facial expression and drew it using graphite on white card, Making sure we had all our features included.
Then we cut them out and began constructing our body using cut out card and attaching it using brass fasteners so our bodies and arms and legs can move. One suggested that we could use our characters to make a puppet show or add sticks so we could move them. That’s what the plan is over the next couple of weeks – develop characters and setting and sets and hopefully develop some scenes to act out.
Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral
I began today’s session by looking at an image from New Grange (3200BC) and we talked about what the class knew about New Grange. Some had been before and remembered about the chamber, the Winter Solstice and the sun lighting up the chamber and that that it was a burial chamber. We talked about how it is older than Pyramids (2610BC) and although similar in that it is a grave how special it was that the sun came in on this one day – maybe the dead persons birthday or day they died.
We then looked at an image of the Rose Window stained glass from Chartres Cathedral and I explained how stained glass was used not to allow those in the building to see out but to control the light that came into the dark gothic churches. How they were also used to tell stories from the bible – so nearly like a comic strip. But also how the artists who created these huge stained glass were artists, craftspeople and engineers. I was using these images to get the class thinking about how an atmosphere, environment can be created by using light, colour and architecture.
Unfortunately the session was shorter than usual so we had less time to get on with the practical making part of the session. The intention was that in pairs the class would create models of light installations using reflective card and the coloured cellophane as the colour filter. So as we only got started on these models we will try and get time to return to them over the coming weeks and explore the effects of light, colour and reflection.
10th October 2019
When we finished the constructions last week and put them all together Ruby said they looked like a line of houses or a street. Which got me thinking that we could build on some of our construction techniques and look at the idea of inside and outside and with it coming up to Hallowe’en what better way that to make some haunted houses! We looked at the shape of haunted house and how the walls are kind of wobbly. We discovered that if you made some ghost sounds while drawing the house that you ended up with very wobbly walls indeed making it look all the more spooky!
Then we looked at what might be inside and drew the rooms inside and then where the windows might be and cut open the windows with a little bit of help all round. It all got a bit noisy so we took a little minute to look at new ideas that we could use like the pop out ghosts by folding long strip of card with ghost on the end. We thought of ideas for what might be outside the house – railings, gravestones and maybe a full moon in the sky. Then it was time to give our haunted houses a name and assemble them altogether to create a haunted street. Very busy session! And some great ideas and sharing of ideas too!
3rd October 2019
Following on from the suggestions from the class to work in abstraction and stained glass I had planned to work with the designs we had created from the layered drawings from our walk to Monkstown Castle. So we overlaid the designs with A3 acetate and coloured cellophane creating stained glass version of our designs. The class got stuck into this and worked quite quickly in some case simplifying their designs so that there were block of colour. While some in the class experimented more with the shapes and overlaying different colours.
So as a short exercise and to carry on the idea of starting from observational drawing and moving to abstraction – we did some direct portraits. Using A4 acetate on the windows the class worked in pairs on each others portraits with permanent markers. and then added layers of coloured cellophane so they began to look like some strange contemporary pop art stained glass portraits.
Images to follow.