Artist Luned Rhys Parri worked with a mixed Year 3 and 4 class, at Ysgol Bro Gwydir. The ‘giants’ project dovetailed into more wide-ranging work on faces and facial expressions over a period of two to three weeks.
The ‘Giants! project was initiated as part of the wider term-long theme ‘Myself’, that Year 3 and 4 learners at Ysgol Bro Gwydir were following. Learners had been looking at portraits, and were focusing on the different shapes of people’s faces.
They had been reading The BFG by Roald Dahl in English and a Year 3-4 appropriate version of Branwen ferch Llŷr, the second branch of the Mabinogi in Welsh. Both feature giants: BFG - a 24-foot-tall individual possessed of superhuman hearing and immense speed, and Bendigeidfran – a giant and king of Britain in Welsh mythology
Gripped by the literacy work, pupils suggested painting a giant’s face. Luned Rhys Parri - an artist originally from the local area, was invited to visit school to work with them..
The project as a whole incorporated many literacy and some numeracy elements from the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF), specifically in literacy:
…and in numeracy:
-brought a ‘different’ expertise which complimented that of staff.
-worked on a much larger canvas, so could advise learners on how to draw and paint faces on a large scale,
-gave children an opportunity to work with her, learning and using her techniques.
The artist was asked to focus on specific aspects of facial expression, e.g. drawing eyes that had a look of anger in them, dividing the face into fractions to help learners to position the eyes, nose and mouth within the face, measuring the distance between the different facial features. This was also an opportunity for learners to develop their oracy skills, specifically using language appropriate to more formal situations when talking to an artist about their work.
From the school’s perspective, planning involved, finding a suitable location and sourcing materials - cardboard boxes that could be used (recycled)
From the artist’s perspective, it was important to establish the context for the work, find out what form of visual art to use during the visit and what skills to focus on.
To prepare for the visit, learners;
In addition to work on ‘giants’ within Welsh and English literature, they wrote stories about ‘the villain’, acrostic poems and haikus and used alliteration to devise suitable names for giants.
The project gave the teacher ideas about follow up work, based on techniques used, and, the confidence and inspiration to try different things with learners during art lessons (e.g. painting on a larger canvass, using larger brushes, using the school hall for large-scale painting etc.)
The children benefited from the opportunity to observe a professional artist draw and paint using techniques that they could easily emulate and material that is readily available. They were guided by the artist to think and talk about the position and scale of the different facial features – a good starting point for the introduction of numeracy into art work.
The potential for Numeracy extension includes: dividing giants’ faces into halves and quarters, recognising the meaning of ‘perimeter’ and measuring the perimeter of giants’ faces, comparing the size of their own face and facial features to those of the giant. The data generated from can then be recorded and represented in various visual forms.