Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

Year 9 Art

Pebble has not only transformed my teaching, but the expectations of what young minds can achieve when they are given the right stimulus and level of challenge which stretches their ambitions. As a consequence of this, I am developing an enquiry based model of learning for Year 9 which will build on their understanding of paint in Year 7 and the opening of their creative minds through the Year 8 Pebble course. This years AQA exam threw up a really complex, interesting question based on Contrast- contrast of human experience, what makes us who we are. Below is one of my students exam responses, which has inspired me to teach Year 9 in the same way.

Here the student starts the breif, very openly, giving his opening respoonse to his understanding about the question.

The student looked at the contemporary photographer, Simon Norfolk, who records the contrast of human experience across the world. The students interpretation of his work is the picture in the top right.

The second artist he looked at was Bill Viola- the image on the far right was created by plunging his head into a clear plastic box whilst setting the timer on his camera. A brilliant, playful interpretation of his work. Viola’s work is heavily influenced by the elements- which was to be something the student became very interested in.

One of the exam question artists was Hieronymus Bosch, exploring the human condition with his earthly delights work. The study by the student in the top corner is mixed media.

The student found the work of Shapcott really inspiring and led to the decisions about his final work. The study in the bottom left was done with coloured pencil.

Next, the student explored the concept of the four elements. These are some of his initial explorations.

Exploring each element in greater depth

Incredible, risky, exciting images of fire using steel wool and long exposures.

Parkour on the sand dunes and cut up books to explore air!

macro photography shots exploring water

Studies of water using a variety of media.

After exploring the elements in such depth, the student still felt he hadn’t got where he wanted to and finally realised he wanted to talk about the human condition- what binds us together- he took these two simple photos in the Art room looking at emotions.

He created this picture exploring sorrow

And this is what he created for his final piece. Not amazingly special, but the journey to get here demonstrated exactly how I want Year 9 to explore their enquiry.


I have devised a group of questions which Year 9 will choose and explore in depth ready for next year, one of them being the Human Contrast question.

I hope this will allow students to be in control and independent; to follow and explore where they feel, as an artist the question will take them.

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