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Top Tip - Exploring Work of Artists and Designers

Submitted by Education on Thu, 15/02/2018 - 17:07

From Artist Educator Daniel Wallis 

Supermarket Categorising Game  

  • Use multiple sets of images, each set containing 20 – 30 everyday objects, one set per group (groups of 2 – 5 people).
  • Each group to arrange the objects into sets, or however they like - find simple links, obvious ones, which can lead to more developed categories and interpretations.
  • You can use print outs of actual artworks, but starting this way is less imposing.

Abstract Poem

Individuals write down words on post it notes in response to an artwork. Use prompts such as:





What does it remind you of?


  • Share words in small groups (maximum 5 people). What do you have in common, what contradicts?
  • Combine words to form a poem – simply arrange post it notes, or get more complicated and each person write a line then combine lines to make the poem.

Ways in Methodology

This is a framework for ways into interpreting work, and is the basis of the Abstract Poem activity.

Stream of Consciousness

  • Write about a chosen artwork (or artists, or theme, or your own artwork) for 5 minutes (minimum) and don’t stop writing – if you have nothing to write instead draw a spiral in the corner until words come.
  • At end of time highlight the unexpected words, interesting words, or even make links between words.
  • Look for links between this artwork (or theme) and your artwork, or other artists work.

Fake Gallery

  • Laying out a fake gallery that mixes students own work with that of artists who have influenced them will clearly show links between the works.
  • Think back to the Supermarket activity as to how to group works together – Imagine the narrative that flows between artworks as someone walks around the space.
  • Add interpretation panels for each work and for the gallery as a whole, or for each section of the gallery.
  • Give the exhibition a title.

Tracing paper overlays for analysing an artwork

  • Lay a piece of tracing paper over an A4 print out of an artists’ work.
  • Annotate this paper over relevant elements of the image below that have in some way inspired artworks by the student. Even stick small photos of students own work in place.
  • You can use multiple layers of tracing paper that open as a book to reveal the original image below.
  • Each layer could focus on a different element of inspiration – subject matter, technique, etc.