Last week we were joined by 15 students from Droylesden High School for Girls their teacher who took part in our Art Forms in Nature session up in the Life Lab and down in the birds and insects gallery below.
The girls seemed to be interested in what was going on at the museum from the moment they arrived. Only two of the 15 students had been to a museum before, yet they were soon keying into current debates like the ethics of having human remains and animal remains on display.
The beginning of the session asked the students to interpret scientific illustrations for themselves without any prior knowledge of what they are looking at. This is not an easy task for any artist or art historian but the students were soon coming up with a range of their own interpretations which showed how just by looking and discussing they could understand how art works communicate ideas for themselves.
After identifying a range of creative techniques, the students went down onto the galleries to draw from the real insects and birds on display. They were challenged with a number of experimental drawing techniques which reminded them to take risks with their work and not to always be so focused on final outcomes. Two drawings stood out from this, a bird and a butterfly – both drawn with the wrong hand – looked as if they could have just fluttered away.
In the final part of the session the girls developed their drawings into design ideas for furniture, jewelery, wallpaper or architecture. This part of the session involved the girls thinking about how they could turn their documentation of natural objects into a functional design. This was a big step to take within the two hour session but meant the students had the chance to experiment with a range of materials and see how their research at the museum could be turned into something useful.