The Language and Science of Art
Monday, 11 May 2015
A visit to the Auckland Art Gallery always brings a new dimension to the girls’ learning and for the girls in Years 1-3, their recent visit was no exception. There is no substitute for seeing professional artwork first-hand as it is through this experience that students develop an appreciation of the scale, colours, layers, textures and other visual information about painting, prints, sculpture and installations that cannot be appreciated in reproductions.
Prior to the gallery visit, the girls had been learning about the science of light and colour through a variety of experiments in the classroom and, in anticipation of Anzac Day, had looked at the work of Georgia O’Keefe and mixed colours to paint poppies. It was with this knowledge that they boarded the bus for Auckland Art Gallery to explore the symbolism of colour.
The morning was split into two sessions – a gallery visit and a practical workshop.
The girls visited a gallery of contemporary New Zealand work, ‘Extra Ordinary Everyday’ with artworks selected to reveal ordinary aspects of daily existence with the familiar presented in unexpected and imaginative ways. The session explored ways that the artists used colour symbolically to create mood and emotion in their work. Small groups of girls were each given two words such as ‘bright, dark, sparkly, light, hard, soft’ and were asked as a group to select an artwork that they felt represented their word.
They were then asked to explain why they had chosen it, articulating their insights with enthusiasm and increasing confidence as the workshop convenor gently probed. In another exercise, the girls viewed three white lace dresses hanging from above and were given a selection of fabrics to discuss which they would choose for a dress, opening their language further to discuss not only colour but texture also.
The girls moved on to an outdoor area (in the rain!) to view Seung Yul Oh’s large scale inflatable sculpture ‘SOOM’ - the Korean word for ‘breath,’ as the large PVC bubbles require constant aeration and appear to breathe as they respond to fluctuations of temperature and wind. This gave the girls another opportunity to discuss the language of shape and form. Their vastly different interpretations also offered the chance to discuss how each person sees and interprets an artwork differently.
The practical session concentrated on experimenting with colour, predicting what may happen when different coloured dyes engage on paper and how they could manipulate their results. The session finished with using ink and pipettes to make bubbles; a miniature scale of the artwork they had seen. This required enormous concentration to achieve but once mastered, the girls were away!
Through their interaction with both the artworks and the specialist gallery teachers, the visit provided a valuable opportunity to nurture the girls’ curiosity, awareness and understanding in the arts, develop their language and critical thinking skills and gain a growing appreciation of the place of colour in our world.