Cansfield High joined us at the museum last week for our first To the Skeleton session. The idea was to use the Tyrannasaurus Rex skeleton to look at negative and positive spaces in art and then to develop those drawings with inspiration from local artist, Rob Bailey, and grafitti artist, Banksy.
Another big feature of the Pathways and Progressions programme for us (which is funding the free school sessions) is that we are looking at how the museum ‘environment’ can promote learning. By ‘environment’ we mean the people, collections and places in the museum.
To the Skeleton makes best use of the museum spaces and collections by using the T. Rex for observational drawing (arguably one of the most dynamic and exciting objects any student is likely to come across in their school day). By drawing through acetate and making scissor drawings by cutting the spaces around the bones of the skeleton out of black paper, we encourage the students to use the museum space in new and experimental ways.
When I was delivering the session I made no pretense of the fact that this was the first time we’d tried out some of the techniques. I thought it was important that the students knew that this was an experiment for me as well as them and that they could see that I was confident in that position. I don’t know whether it made any difference, but despite the scale of the object they were being asked to draw and the challenge of the negative space drawings, the quality and breadth of work produced spoke for itself.
The museum spaces and its collections were also picked up on in the students written feedback which mirror how they marvelled at the skeleton as they first approached it:
“at school its just a small room but at a museum you can explore”
“school is in one room and the museum is one big room with lots of things to look at”
“working at the museum you could see the things in 3D that you were drawing”
“freedom to express yoiur own work in the session”
“you got to do what you want instead of being told specifically an you can learn by experiencing it first hand”
“you could see actual things instead of just pictures”
Nearly half of the students commented on the size of the T. Rex in their written feedback.