Out of Art into Literacy: Pupils' artwork at the National Gallery

By Rachel Hayward | 16 September 2010

Showing colourful painting with shapes and objects including an eye and countryside features
© National Gallery
The Out of Art into Literacy exhibition (until December 5, 2010) at the National Gallery showcases two latest National Gallery education projects: Into the Frame and Out of Art into Storytelling.

Both projects gave teachers the opportunity to explore the potential of using Gallery paintings to inspire their pupils’ discussion and writing inside and outside the classroom.

20 teachers from 10 London schools, where pupils were underperforming, took part in CPD to use paintings to inspire the pupils through speaking and listening activities, including drama as well as written work in order to improve their attainment levels. The children also visited the National Gallery in order to encounter the collection’s paintings firsthand as well as their own artwork.

Examples of the pupils' oral storytelling, animation, writing and mixed-media artwork will be on show at the National Gallery as part of Out of Art into Literacy.

National Gallery paintings that inspired the children include Bathers at Asnières (1884) by Georges Seurat, Bacchus and Ariadne (1520–3) by Titian, Tobias and the Angel (1470–75) by the workshop of Verrocchio and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768) by Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’.

Ali Mawle, National Gallery Head of Schools, said, "It has been transformational for many of the teachers and pupils involved. Teachers have captured or recaptured the enjoyment and value of talk and drama to explore the rich context presented by a narrative painting. Children look at National Gallery paintings differently now – with confidence and as a source of stories for them to tell. It has been amazing to see the passion that has been ignited."

A teacher said, "Lessons are enjoyable to teach, resource-light and have produced the best writing results I have seen."

 The exhibition and accompanying film celebrate the pupils’ work and demonstrate, as a Cambridge University external evaluation report confirmed, the power of visual art to transform children’s storytelling.

For more information, please visit the National Gallery website.

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