Tuesday, 9 June 2015

About This Blog

This blog is for additional notes and films to support the learning resources made for CultureStreet's Museums Channel.

For each museum featured on CultureStreet, Keith Alexander and the artists@work team took groups of children to a museum and let them select the exhibit they found the most intriguing.They then filmed the pupils interviewing curators about the chosen artifact. 

I got the job of making engaging lessons using the objects as the focus. All the lessons
have direct links to the current National Curriculum (England) and use the learners' higher order thinking skills.
Objects chosen by the children included a clockwork toy horse, a Victorian hand-held film viewer and a stuffed midget cow!
The project has been one of the best experiences of my teaching career - and not just because it didn't involve a single break duty...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Deconstructing the Great Wave

The KS3 Art & Design materials resulting from the students' choice of Hemy's 'Through Sea and Air' at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, present the challenge of analysing the significant differences and similarities between this oil painting and Katsushika Hokusai's famous woodblock print 'Great Wave off Kanagawa'.
In making the short film for the resource, I used Photoshop Elements magic wand and layers to deconstruct the woodblock print into its constituent colours. 
This additional film made since the resource explains how. The process is straightforward and has been tried successfully with pupils in upper KS2 and above.

As well as aiding understanding of the components of any solid block printing technique, it can also be used can be used in conjunction with Photoshop's ability to change or substitute colours, to experiment with the effect of reworking pieces using radically different palettes.
The same technique can also be used in a similar way with the free, open-source software 'Gimp'.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Kinora Viewer: How we see movement.

The children taken to the National Media Museum in Bradford, chose a Kinora Viewer - an early hand held device for showing short movies by flicking through a batch of still images shot at a rate of around 16 per second. The object, designed by Auguste and Louis Lumiere, provides a magical way into understanding how humans and other animals see things move.

The short film and teachers lesson plan cover the KS2 requirements on how light travels as well as explaining recent discoveries by scientists studying the perception of movement. 

There was no room to include this additional short film showing a real-life example of the 'false face' phenomenon explored in the lesson...

This outake footage was made during the CultureStreet (formerly 'ArtisanCam') feature on the major exhibition by Jaume Plensa at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The wire-frame film in the CultureStreet resource...


...offers two demonstrations of how the images we see are produced in our brain. The resource doesn't credit the scientist who first realised how vision actually works. It is worth pupils knowing about him even if the National Curriculum ignores his existence.

In the ancient world, many thought that sight was caused by the eyes sending out beams of light to the objects we then see. Even bright chaps like Plato rated this theory. Others believed that objects emitted tiny physical copies of themselves that entered our eyes (so a table would be constantly beaming out streams of nano-tables). 

The discovery of what we now regard as the correct theory is credited to the Muslim scientist Ibn al-Haytham, born in Basra in 965 AD (354 AH). 

He was the first to explain how rays of light entered the eye, are focused on the retina an how the optic nerve carries the information deeper into the brain where the image is perceived.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili has a useful article about Ibn al-Haytham at

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Computer Aided & Traditional Making

Since my piece about Gareth Neal's 'Anne Chair' was published, Gareth's 'George III chest'
has been added to the V&A's permanent collection. Even more than the Anne Chair, this piece needs to be viewed from a variety of angles to appreciate the subtlety of the form within a form.

The 'Development Activity' suggests asking learners to compare and contrast Neal's work with that of the ceramicist Michael Eden. Rather than use the suggested link to the archived CLEO film about Mike's work, there are now two better options;
a film made for the Smithsonian's Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York...


and One to Watch: Michael Eden, Maker,  a film by Kasia Fiszer for Homes and Antiques.