Enquiremanchester’s Weblog

The Manchester Museum is the lead museum in the North West Manchester cluster in a national project about art and learning for engage called ‘enquire’

Big Art, Big Ideas new secondary school session April 22, 2010

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Recording and collecting in the Darwin exhibition

I was joined by Blessed Thomas Catholic College Year 8 art students yesterday at the museum.  The new session Big Art, Big ideas uses the Darwin exhibition as a starting point to consider how young artists can communicate concepts and ideas through simple visual forms.

The group started off by considering image, text and design down in the exhibition then we headed up to the Life Lab which had been turned into a print and design studio.  We turned the collected observational drawings, found text and design techniques recorded in the exhibition into striking fine-art design work using simple print and pen and ink techniques.

While we stuck to black and white during the session, everyone headed back to school with an eye-catching design which they could develop in colour if they wanted to.

I’d suggest they try:  collage, coloured acetate, paint, more printing, ink colour washes or digital processes.

The thing I most loved about the afternoon (apart from the sheer enthusiasm and ability shown by the students) was seeing how putting together observational drawings, found words and images against a scientific, historical and artistic backdrop made new and playful meanings of their own.

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Art Forms in Nature – in the Life Lab November 11, 2008

dsc004551Last 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.

dsc004571After 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.

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