Just a quick update on some of the works that were in progress last week - many of the students have finished their assessment pieces now, although for Year 11, their coursework deadline is still s couple of weeks away.
What a great time I've had in the studio over the past couple of days! Students in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 have all been working on major pieces for their Art Assessments this week and it's this point that really brings together everything we've been working on so far this year. It's been absolutely fantastic to see every senior school art student working independently and with confidence on their own projects, researched, designed and created in response to their own interests, ideas and preferences.
First, Year 10, after about three lessons' painting time. We are still at a fairly early stage of the IGCSE course and these A3-sized pieces reflect the fact that students are still focussing more on skills, not ideas. The works they've developed come from their investigations into other still life painters, combined with images and objects they've been photographing and drawing in the last couple of weeks. In most examples, however, it's clear to see that they're beginning to make more of their own choices in terms of what interests them; form and space, abstraction, detail, texture and line or painterly quality. From this basis, more of their own ideas and concepts can start to build.
Year 11 students are working at a more personal level, bringing more of their own thinking and different layers of meaning, symbol and metaphor into their work. This prepares them for further developments and (almost!) complete independence in the final examination, which starts in January:
And finally, a series of images from students in Years 12 and 13, working on their AS and A2 coursework projects.
The Year 13s are beginning to branch out in exploring their major coursework themes this year. By asking them to produce a series of works around a single topic, I wanted them to have the freedom to try things quickly (without having the intimidating prospect of a 'final piece' to deal with), but also to work within some limits.
The series could consist of 6, 9 or 15 pieces, must fit onto a single A1 sheet and must make reference to the work of at least one other artist. Beyond that, the students were free to do what they wanted and I think they enjoyed this, as it allowed for a more playful, experimental 'try it and see' approach from several.
Below, some examples at an almost-finished stage. I've been pleased to see that this task has allowed many of them to free up their approach considerably and hope that it will lead onto more works in the coming days and weeks. I'll add more photos, when the work becomes available!
On Thursday, we took all the Year 10 IGCSE Art students over to HK island on a field trip. We started with a couple of hours of observational drawing at the Flagstaff Museum of Teaware, in Hong Kong Park. Although small, the museum luckily has a nice little well-lit collection and the group found plenty to record and explore during the time we had there.
In advance of the trip, I spent a lesson with both classes preparing some quick grounds to use when drawing, which really added a bit of extra interest to their images. The first was a textured collage, inspired by the Ian Murphy workshop I did a few weeks ago - using layers of glued-on newspaper, brown wrapping paper and tissue paper, that we then ripped back and distressed. The second type of ground we created used heavily diluted ink and the students experimented with sponge brushes, pipettes and scrumpled tissues to create more subtle effects.
A lot of the results looked pretty similar by the end of the morning, but as their class work is developing so individually, I'm not too worried by that. It was good to see the sustained effort they managed to put into their work and there was plenty of good observation from first-hand sources going on.
When they have finished their current class work, I am intending to return to some of these studies and the students can develop them further from the photos they took at the museum. Many of the drawings will benefit from some subtle highlighting in white acrylic, to bring out a greater contrast. I might also encourage them to develop stronger tones, contrast and detail in pencil and ink.
After the museum, we had lunch in Central, then walked up to Hollywood Road, taking in the Man Mo Temple and the antiques street just nearby. Hopefully many photos were taken which again can provide some great source material for further ideas and development!
This weekend, I was asked to run a workshop at the High School ISTA festival our school hosted. Having recently picked up some very handy tips at the Chiang Mai ARARTE conference, I offered to do a couple of brief sessions on shadow puppetry.
I started by supplying groups of students with several smallish rectangles of card, cut to roughly correspond to the proportions of a human figure. Firstly, two squarish pieces: one for the upper body (incl head) and one for the lower body (pelvis), which allows a bend at the waist and more realistic movement. I also gave each group two fairly skinny rectangles for the arms and two slightly thicker rectangles for the legs. In their groups, the students then quickly drew and cut individual elements, each taking a single arm or leg, or part of the body/head. This ensured a monstrous, unpredictable result, but also made sure that every group worked fast to bring together a product almost instantly.
After showing them how to create moveable joints in appropriate places (I used split pins, but you can also apparently use thread or fishing line), I showed them how to use masking tape and wooden skewers to create simple rods. It was all very lo-tech, but energetic and enjoyable: after just 30 minutes, the students were operating their puppets and enjoying the effects created. The fact that these Frankenstein creations were brought to life on Halloween was particularly fitting!
The remainder of the session was then given over to the students to create their own puppets and ideas. I also made some coloured tissue paper available, as well as craft knives, for cutting into the shapes and inserting colour and layers of texture. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of their work from the final performance, but will see if I can find some!