What do you get if you introduce 46,500 primary children to just one painting? The answer is as varied as the children’s imaginations.
Take One Picture
is the annual programme by the National Gallery in London which links a chosen picture, teachers, children, their families, investigation and creation.
In 2011/12, the focus was “Still Life with a Drinking-Horn
” by Willem Kalf (c 1653). The painting “ignited children’s curiosity”, said the National Gallery, with the children following their own lines of enquiry in different directions before producing work of exceptional quality. As Jillian Barker, of the National Gallery
“We have been amazed by the infinite capacity of Old Master paintings to inspire children through Take One Picture.”
In summer 2013, the Gallery exhibited work from 25 of the schools that had taken part. The exhibition included a comic strip adventure from Ashdell Preparatory School Sheffield, large pastel drawings from Castlebar, a Special Needs School in London, animations from Clapham Manor Primary School and Grafton Primary School and a study of texture at Gretton Primary School, Northamptonshire. Pupils at Kingsleigh Primary School Dorset recreated the painting for someone who couldn’t see it, St James’s Catholic Primary school children were inspired to create a dance and pupils at the British Embassy School Ankara asked themselves how Salvador Dali would have reacted to the picture.
Take One Picture has been running since 2001 when work from just five schools was exhibited. Grafton Primary School, an exhibitor in 2013, featured in the first-ever Take One Picture exhibition. The school’s excellent art work led to Grafton Primary School being awarded Artsmark
status by Arts Council England.
The picture chosen for 2012/13 was “Bathers at Asnieres
” by Seurat (1884). The National Gallery will display work from selected schools at the Gallery in the summer. This year’s choice for Take One Picture is “St Michael Triumphant over the Devil
”, by Spanish artist Bartolome Bermejo (1468).
The Take One Picture project shows how art can be used as a springboard to develop cross-curricular learning. It’s an example of an excellent initiative which involves thousands of children and yet receives little publicity. Take One Picture is spreading nationally: other art galleries
and museums are becoming involved. More children will be inspired to produce excellent work by being introduced to great art.
So which is better education: initiatives like these which inspire children or target-driven, teaching-to-the-Sats-GCSEs-PISA-tests? A comment by one teacher involved in Take One Picture could answer that question:
“It gave children a chance to shine. They could think ‘I’m valued and good’ and they knew that they were looked at differently.”
“I’m valued and good”
A selection of work chosen for Take One Picture exhibitions can be seen here
The recent BBC School Report, an annual initiative for secondary school pupils, featured on LSN
at the end of March 2014.