An image and language project completed (CLIL activity)

I posted a while back about an extended content and language integrated learning project that I have been working on.

Book project and digitalization

The project in short has involved groups of pupils (aged 14-15) who have completed the following:

  • Researched and analyzed, a group of artworks from the history of art that in some way have a relationship with one another
  • Singled out one artwork and wrote a story (in English, their second language) for younger children in which the afore mentioned artwork played a significant role, and in this way is introduced to the younger readers
  • Produced illustrations to accompany the story
  • Photographed the images and combined them with the text to produce layouts for each page on their iPad
  • Printed and bound the book for a finished project

That was the working process, and as my previous post illustrated there has been seen some good work made, the digital layout work being particularly pleasing to see.

1b

The whole project though has today taken its final turn. I went with a group of nine of the pupils and a selection of the books to visit a primary school, De Fonkeling, where they are also working hard to get more English into the curriculum.

Here, my pupils then read the story books to the oldest children at the primary school (aged 11), explained the project and showed the illustrations.

I entered the school with a group of perhaps slightly nervous fourteen and fifteen year olds, but I left with a group who were clearly surprised by the attention that they were given and the rounds of applause that they received at the end of each story. The younger children played their part fully, filling feedback questionnaires about what they had heard and reacting so enthusiastically.  All in all, a very rewarding and authentic experience at the end of a long project.

Hieronymus Bosch, Chris Berens and Oss

The southern Dutch town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (or Den Bosch) there is currently a large exhibition of the work of the town’s most famous son, Hieronymus Bosch. Works have been gathered for around the world to be displayed in the Noordbrabantsmuseum to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. For Den Bosch the exhibition really is a big deal as there are normally none of the town’s hero’s works found there and for a few months at least they have been able to amass a considerable set .

Hieronymus Bosch is a much loved artist in art rooms around the world. His complex compositions are filled with endless detail, fantastic places, the most curious creatures, pleasure, suffering, heaven and perhaps most of all, references to hell.  There simply is so much to see and explore.

chrisberens

Den Bosch is about tens west of where I teach, in the small Dutch town of Oss. Our local museum, the Jan Cunen, is a whole lot more museum than you might expect to find there. They are savvy enough to know when there is an opportunity to ride someone else’s wave of publicity and that is just what they have done by choosing to align their own programming to a degree with the major event in the neighbouring town. They have even been able to do this by inviting an artist with his own roots in Oss.

The artist concerned is Chris Berens, and has been presented and promoted as an artist drawing on Bosch’s work from 500 years ago. Berens’ work uses some of the visual qualities found in Bosch’s work, an eye for detail and at times huge complexity, but in a more contemporary manner. I have visited the exhibition twice this week with the groups of fifteen and sixteen year olds that I teach. The work is rich in fantasy elements but misses the background religious messages that lie under the surface in Bosch’s work. Technically the work is also rather different being built up of multitudes of manipulated computer prints and hand applied ink work that bring a considerable intensity to the finished work.

For more of Berens work visit his website:

Chris Berens website

The link below gives a little insight into his working practice:


chrisberens2My pupils have enjoyed their visits this week and once again have been quite surprised at the cultural offerings that the local museum can offer. The complexity and rich fantasy element in Berens’ work is particularly engaging in the eyes of the pupils, at least when they pause long enough in front on a single work to give themselves time to unpack some of the riches to be found there. It is no secret that patience not the strongest point of an average fifteen year old!

Bosch’s work is accessible to children and young people on several levels and will continue no doubt to be drawn on by art teachers around the world. In this context, and as an interesting contemporary parallel, Chris Berens’ work is also worth a visit. The technical approach in his use of collage and mixed media is an aspect I will be drawing on in the coming weeks with my classes.

chrisberens3

 

 

Street art and birth control…..the connection

I do like a bit of good street art. You round a corner in an unfamiliar town or city to discover a permanent or temporary addition to the urban scene. Much of the temporary variety can be very sharp and engaging in its message, have a social or political point to make or simply be very funny. In comparison the permanent variety can often seem rather dull and unamusing, be it a statue of some local hero or oblique reference to the history of the area. Rarely does humour seem to have played a role in choosing the artwork to be displayed.

pill strip2The same can surely not do said of the newly unveiled public artwork in the Dutch town of Oss where I work. At least I assume that there must have been at least wry glint in the eyes of the commission who decided that this artwork should be placed between the railway station and the large chemical and pharmaceutical business on the other side. I had seen it being built for a week or two as I waited each day for my train to arrive. Initially I had assumed it was some sort of bicycle storage facility. But as the top section went on it became apparent that Oss too had made a piece of street art that celebrated a significant detail of local history.  But it was a rather unexpected reference, leaving me to suppress my laughter as I boarded my train.

The aforementioned pharmaceutical company used to be known as Organon and was a major producer of the contraceptive pill, and it was this part of local history that is being landmarked. What had been made was a fourteen by seven metre pill strip, complete with twenty one press out ‘bubbles’ for the tablets. It wasn’t until last week that I saw the piece in its full glory. For twenty one days the lights under one after the other of the bubbles is extinguished, thus counting the month away. Finally, after dark in the ‘fourth week’ all the lights burn red, subtle it certainly isn’t! The council had chosen for a giant, glow in the dark, animated pill strip!

pill strip

When seeing it all light up on a dark evening up you have to kind of admire the silliness of it. They can’t have been too serious about it…..can they?

Rather conveniently I am actually dealing with street art in all its forms in a series of lessons with some of my classes at the moment. We will undoubtedly be talking about the pill strip at some point. It ticks many street art boxes, sight specific, content and location connected, surprising, eye catching and funny….although I still have my doubts as to whether this was actually the intention.