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Back cover

Wonderful Pictures was funded by Phase 2 of the DfES Museum and Gallery’s Education Programme, via Resource and the London Museum Agency, with additional support from the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery. For more information about Wonderful Pictures please contact The Education Department at Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 8AD. Telephone 020 8299 8731 Email: info@dulwichpicturegallery. www.dulwichpicturegallery.o


Wonderful Pictures involved: • 52 children aged 9–10 and their teachers • A Project Co-ordinator • 4 Gallery teachers • 5 artists, an IT specialist and a calligrapher • Gallery staff from the Education, Exhibitions, Press and Marketing Departments, the Shop Manager, the Picture Framer, the Front of House Manager, Gallery Attendants and the Director. • Children’s BBC programme SMart

• Withers – a firm of solicitors in the City of London • Sainsbury’s supermarket • The Southwark City Learning Centre IT Suite • The Mayor of Southwark • The Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport It happened alongside the normal weekly Education Programme of: • 18 schools sessions of Gallery tours, practical art workshops and follow up outreach sessions

• 8 sessions of public programmes for adults, children and families • 5 outreach sessions at community sites All personally taught.

Funding Wonderful Pictures was funded by Phase 2 of the DfES Museums and Galleries Education Programme, via Resource and the London Museums Agency, with additional support from the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Dulwich Picture Gallery is an independent gallery and receives no central Government funding.

For more information about Wonderful Pictures please contact: The Education Department Dulwich Picture Gallery Gallery Road London SE21 7AD Tel: 020 8299 8731

Design: SteersMcGillan Ltd Photography: Len Cross ©Dulwich Picture Gallery 2004 Charity No: 1040942

Wonderful Pictures

Wonderful Pictures was a partnership project between Dulwich Picture Gallery and Bessemer Grange Primary School. Eight months of intensive discovery and creativity culminated in an exhibition created and curated by two Year 5 classes of 9 –10 year-old children.

The Partners and the Project

Dulwich Picture Gallery houses a magnificent collection of seventeenth and eighteenth century paintings. Fine art is often thought to be ‘difficult to get into’ but the Education Department constantly seeks new methods to dispel that notion.

Bessemer Grange Primary School is an inner city, multi-cultural school on a large housing estate in Camberwell in the London Borough of Southwark. Wonderful Pictures was something completely different.

For the children, what made it special was that they took the lead. They were involved in all the tasks necessary for putting on an exhibition for the public in a high-profile gallery. This gave the children a sense of ownership, responsibility and pride in their achievements.


Aims: What did we want to achieve?

Wonderful Pictures aimed to show the benefit of crosscurricular learning through creativity, to demonstrate the value of new and broad experiences, and to demonstrate spin-offs such as increased confidence, self-esteem and positive attitudes of the pupils. The project sought to enrich the children’s understanding of a world beyond the confines of school. The teachers hoped to use the project to transcend the restrictions of the National Curriculum.

Focus on Identity

The Gallery’s collection of portraits provided the ideal starting point to explore issues of identity and image. Picture detectives Each class was divided into small groups for personal, face-to-face teaching with Gallery teachers.

The focus was on learning to look, how to interpret the artists’ messages in the portraits and how to ‘read’ a picture. The children discussed body language, expression, gesture, status and symbolism in relation to image and identity.

Throughout this introductory period the children began to form relationships with the project co-ordinator and the team of Gallery teachers.


Focus on Creativity

In school the children worked with six of the Gallery’s team of professional artists to learn new art skills. They developed their own ideas about identity – how they are seen and how they would like to be seen. They explored a wide range of media and learned new and unusual techniques from the experts, including a textiles artist, a puppet maker, an IT specialist and a calligrapher.

“Children who once viewed art as an easy lesson to sit back and chat in, or immediately gave up because they saw themselves as people who could not draw, are now producing art work to be proud of and are willing to try any new technique.” Class teacher

In total 21 creative art sessions took place at the Gallery and at school.

“I rushed home to tell my mum that we made felt and I explained how we done it. When I learnt how to do it I felt happy and I want my mum to see all my work in the gallery.” Cengiz

“I think I’ve changed since we did the art work.” Amy

“I can maybe teach my brother these techniques and do some more myself.” Enoch


Techniques and Media

Felt Portraits The children made selfportraits, and from these drawings they developed pieces of felt. They discovered that felt is made from the fleece of sheep, and that making felt is a complicated process.

For the background gauzy fleece was laid out, several thin layers one on top of the other. For the facial features, the children cut pre-made coloured felt into the shapes they needed and applied them as a collage. A soap and water solution was applied to soak the fleece. Each wet piece was rolled up tightly in a towel and manually rolled backwards and forwards causing the fibres to entwine and mat together. Each piece was rolled 400 times. The children embraced the hard physical work with vigour. They used stitching to decorate their portraits to add colour and texture.

“This is brilliant, totally magical, we have to get this technique into school somehow.” Class teacher


Pastels The children discussed how artists often portrayed their sitters with objects which described their personality. Each child made a drawing from a Gallery portrait, then added in their own favourite object. These ranged from skateboards, and computer games to teddy bears, bringing the 400-year-old characters into the twenty first century.

Using high quality pastels the children worked on a large scale in vivid colours and learned how to mix them to depict texture and pattern.

Monoprints The children were asked to bring in something from home which they felt was important to them. They drew each other holding their favourite objects. The drawings were photocopied and placed on a thinly inked surface. When the children traced over their drawings, the pressure picked up the ink underneath, resulting in a single print, called a monoprint.

Art and Science: A Day in The Life of a 17th Century Artist The children learned how artists in the 17th century had to make their own paints from raw ingredients. Cochineal beetles and buckthorn berries were heated with alum and soda to make red and yellow. Verdigris, a turquoise colour, was made by exposing copper to vinegar. A rich red earth from Somerset was used to make brown and soot was used for black. They experimented with a range of binders – egg, oil, animal skin glue, and gum from acacia trees – to make their pigments into paint.

The children were amazed that colours that could be extracted from such unexpected ingredients, and were disgusted that the beetles are still used as a food colouring. The children drew self portraits. Compass points were used to prick holes along the lines. Charcoal dust was rubbed through the holes to paper laid underneath. This method of reproduction is called a ‘cartoon’. The natural paints were then used to colour the self-portraits.

Pen and Wash Gallery portraits were used as the basis to explore the expressive power of colour, shape and line. Using a limited palette the children laid down transparent watercolour washes. Then with pen and ink they added a variety of linear techniques to describe textures and the details of clothing, hair and jewellery.

The children worked with enormous care and enthusiasm to develop these difficult techniques, achieving some beautiful results.

3D Model Heads Inexpensive materials were used to create lively 3D self-portraits. The children discussed their possible future careers which ranged from footballers, actresses, singers, to a scientist, basketball player, bouncer and barrister. They chose a variety of materials to dress their future model selves, some bringing their own outgrown clothes and wool to create hairstyles.

T-Shirt Designs Using paper torn or cut from magazines they used collage techniques to build up images of themselves.

Collage The children wrote a list of their favourite things. The idea was to concentrate on who they were, rather than what they looked like. Letters, The idea was to use colours textures, colours and images and shapes that they felt torn from magazines and reflected their personality newspapers were the resulting in a wonderful materials in these personal range of abstracted images. and abstract statements. Each finished collage piece Life Drawing was scanned and printed A quick drawing session used on to transfer paper ready their improved observation to be ironed onto t-shirts. skills to capture the essence of the sitter, in this case Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the Director, posing in the Gallery.

“I liked doing the print work with Dave as it was something I had never done before in my small life.� Judah


Creating the Exhibition

The Director’s Involvement The Gallery’s Director gave the children advice on how to prepare their speeches for the opening night, and The Press and Marketing how to give tours of the team made a display of paintings. He explained the publicity materials and decision-making process taught the children how when hanging an exhibition. to write a press release to He demonstrated his “sell” their exhibition. personal interest in the The Framer demonstrated project by addressing a school assembly – this was framing techniques in his workshop and talked about key to involving the entire school. conservation and gilding. Every Gallery department was involved as the children learned about what happens behind the scenes of an exhibition.

They learned from the warders about how the Gallery runs and about customer care.

They explored the shop and talked about sales to the Shop Manager.

The handling of the exhibition was treated in the same way as all exhibitions at the Gallery. The Curator’s team planned the display with the children and the artworks were professionally mounted and framed.



On Gallery tours children Every child was represented not only learned about the in the final exhibition. pictures, they were also shown the computerised lighting, humidity and temperature control system.

Throughout the Gallery visits children looked, listened, asked hundreds of questions and made diary notes for future reference.


1 Showing the Gallery Director around the exhibition 2 Meeting the Framer

3 Last minute instructions before the Private View 4 At the Southwark City Learning Centre IT Suite 8

5 Practising speeches for the Private View

Cross-curricular Benefits

Speaking, Listening and Writing Speaking, listening and writing blossomed during the project. The children followed instructions carefully, spoke to a wide range of artists and Gallery staff and threw themselves into role playing to prepare to guide family and friends around the Gallery and their exhibition. The children met so many new people, it expanded their world and their vocabulary showed it. They wrote captions for their exhibition work and described their Gallery experiences in diaries. They made up stories based on the life of a warder using ideas developed from their meetings. They wrote to celebrities such as David Beckham, JK Rowling and Rolf Harris to invite them to the Private View, and received prompt replies.

The literacy strategies addressed were vocabulary expansion, prescriptive writing, creative writing, and persuasive writing.

“Come to the private view of magnificent children’s art – you will be gob smacked and never forget it!” Kalifa

“See some fantastic and amazing original art done by 10 year olds. They’ve studied the old masters and have made the paintings funny.” George

History The children learned about people and places from the past, as well as the history of the Gallery. They also discovered the materials, methods and processes involved in painting in the 17th and 18th centuries. IT and Design A professional graphic designer went into class and helped the children to design posters and flyers. At the nearby Southwark City Learning Centre they used IT programmes to produce their own.

And more... Maths, problem solving, media training, public speaking, speech writing, Citizenship and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education), healthy eating and food technology were also covered.

They also worked in groups sharing ideas for the Private View invitation card, and then commissioned the designer to create it using their own text.




Expanding Horizons

Filmed for TV The children were excited to be filmed for some weeks for SMart, a BBC children’s art programme. They learned how to express themselves in front of a television camera and soon overcame any camera shyness. As they met an increasing number of new people they became relaxed, confident and articulate. Catering for the Private View The children formed a catering committee to discuss refreshments for the Private View. They decided on biscuits decorated with faces to relate to the portrait theme.

At the local Sainsbury’s they compared the price of home-made biscuits with bought ones – this gave the children quite a surprise.


All 52 children made and decorated an enormous quantity of biscuits. More maths was involved as ingredients were weighed and cooking times worked out during an intensive home economics session.

Young enterprise – an unforeseen spin-off The children’s beautiful collage self-portraits on T-shirts were sold. Children learned to take orders (size, image, colour) and deal with money.

85 T-shirts were bought, not only by their families but also by exhibition visitors. The Gallery Curator was the first to buy one. The school were delighted with the small but useful profit.

The Exhibition

Private View The exhibition was opened by the Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, and the Mayor of Southwark. The children received and introduced the Minister and the Mayor. They confidently served refreshments, read their speeches, sold T-shirts and showed guests around the exhibition. Children’s BBC filmed it all. Parents, friends, teachers, colleagues and government ministers mingled well into the evening. The Gallery grounds were buzzing with the children and their often large extended families who were filled with pride at their children’s achievements.

For three weeks the children warded the exhibition at the weekends on a voluntary rota. They took leaflets and distributed them to visitors explaining who they were and all about Wonderful Pictures. The general public were charmed by these assured, polite and enthusiastic young guides.

Teacher’s Comments “The building of confidence and breaking down of barriers and fixed attitudes has transferred across the curriculum as children now bring ideas of design and fantastic presentation to everything they do, and best of all the golden question is back on the agenda “Miss, can I…?” Of course the answer is yes.” “Interesting to see such confidence – trying to be different. So often I find these children value sameness above all else and are incredibly reluctant to follow ideas. Both they and their parents believe that anything different will be attacked, bullied... Art is not just an art thing, but a psychological shift.” “These children have few male role models and related well to the male artists they met. The boys now think art is ‘cool’.

“There has been a huge growth in awareness of the effects of body language, leading to greater awareness of what goes on in school interactions, which has in turn affected behaviour.”


Comments from the Visitor’s Book

“Wonderful Pictures indeed. If only all children could benefit from such an excellent project.” “Marvellous – lively guided tour from one of the young artists.”

“Stunning original work; an inspiration and an example to educators everywhere.”

“Being a teacher, counsellor “This is really groovy!” and mother, all I can say “A most uplifting experience, is you brought me to tears full of hope and excitement.” and laughter!” “Difficult to believe these “A joy to see how art beautiful pictures are the has opened up children’s work of 10 year olds.” creativity.” “The artists seem to have developed such confidence!”



Wonderful Pictures was a community project, involving children, their families, their teachers, professional artists, a local supermarket, the mayor of Southwark, a BBC film crew, a firm of Children’s BBC programme solicitors and all the staff SMart featured the children and volunteers at Dulwich in creative sessions and Picture Gallery. organising the exhibition. The children benefited The exhibition also went tangibly from the intensity on show at Withers – a of a project which took London firm of solicitors. over their lives. Working Withers have an art and alongside so many different cultural assets section artists was a valuable and their magnificent experience in itself. Each contemporary office varied in approach, use of complex is ideal for display. vocabulary, expectations, The senior partners took personality, and each a keen interest in the interacted with the children exhibition, describing it in different ways. in detail to visiting clients. The project also had a Withers sponsored a noticable effect on their second Private View and families. The Gallery will for the children a trip to now always be a place the City in a luxury coach where these children and to view their show followed their families know they by a party. are welcome. The exhibition featured in the school’s Ofsted inspection and the school was commended in the report for the partnership nature of the project.

Comments from the Visitor’s Book at Withers: “Lovely pictures! Meetings have never been more interesting” “A wonderful show. The pictures really brightened the walls of our law firm.”


“Can’t believe that mere children did this”.

Wonderful Picture Project at the Dulwich Picture Gallery  
Wonderful Picture Project at the Dulwich Picture Gallery  

Dulwich Picture Gallery