Image Manipulation

5 Apr

On 30/3/11 we had the opportunity to go to a seminar by Valle Galera de Ulierte on “Image, Object and Identity: Photography and the Construction of Meaning in the 21st Century”. I have not had much experience of photography as a Fine Art therefore the main thing I feel I learned is that photography is not necessarily capturing exactly what it there but capturing/creating a certain symbolic nature of what is actually being photographed.  It could be deliberately presently props/people in different contexts to communicate something else, to trick the mind or by communicating multiple meanings. When I think about it more I realise that photography as a Fine Art requires similar thinking to the creation of a painting e.g. composition, props, colours, lighting, models, body language and what symbolism is being used and for what purpose. I found an interesting article  about such symbolism in photography called using symbols and metaphors to express meaning’ which extended the variety of images I also saw and heard analysis of in the seminar as well as expose me to other kinds photographic symbolism and metaphors.

The workshop that followed the seminar left me feeling inspired because I have been toying with the idea of getting more into photography for several years. I looked through many, many photos that I have taken in the past and selected ones that mean something to me and manipulated colours and composition using software. In this sense I feel I tend to work backwards- I’ll produce something that means something to me or that simply feels right and I’ll analyse the symbolic nature relevant to my own feelings/experiences after the image is created or finished. So, in that sense, I often personally use the production of images to understand who I am- to find my own identity through pure creation.

I would definitely in the future like to consciously communicate something important to me  and symbolically through images and offer children I am teaching to also take part in such experiences. For example, I could teach a lesson where children have to present five images of things that represent who they are and why. This is what I have done below as well as manipulate them in such a way a certain symbolic representation of aspects of my mind/identity/feelings comes through aiding my own knowledge of self.

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“The final mystery is oneself.” Oscar Wilde


Glasgow Musuems Resource Centre

27 Mar

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On the 23/3/11 our Learning Through Art and Visual Culture module took us to Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. It is- by no stretch of the imagination- amazing. I felt how I imagine Howard Carter must have felt when he discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb- simply awestruck! It is mind-blowing seeing so many relics, treasure and valued items spanning many ages of mankind. I am aware this centre stores about a million items!

I managed to take many pictures of  the contents we observed but there are still many more storage units within the building to explore. It is described as housing the city’s hidden art collection.

This visit has definitely inspired me to use such an amazing and free resource in teaching as tours can be arranged around certain themes such as the Industrial Revolution or Egyptians. Handling sessions with the artefacts can also be arranged which would give children more of a multi-sensory experience with relics-particularly of the past.

To further extend the benefits of GMRC, it has a vast collection of contemporary  art which “has a more visible and, apparently, more youth orientated appeal” (Sefton-Green & Sinker (eds), 2000, p.181). This is perhaps because it is more relevant to the children’s experiences in a rapidly changing world. As a teacher I feel:-

It is time to use contemporary art in the classroom as it has far greater meaning for the children which leads to far greater understanding.


Reference List

Sefton-Green, J. & Sinker, R. (eds)(2000) Evaluating Creativity: Making and Learning by Young People. London: Routeledge.

Visual Literacy

23 Mar

What does it mean to be visually literate?

In this weeks session  on 16/3/11 we thought about what visual literacy actually is; in preparation for looking, really looking, at objects at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre next week.

The stimulus for our conversation was a tea bag..

With eight different people taking turns to describe what this seemingly mundane object is (e.g how it is made, what it looks like, what it smells like, what size it is) the ordinary certainly became extraordinary.This experience allowed me  to see that visual literacy is the ability to use language to describe what can be seen.

Being visually literate also allows children to discuss and share understanding of the processes in which art is made (solving a problem of how a work came to be)(Knight, 2010). But understanding can be far deeper for children when exposed to contemporary art as “Heirarchised power structures are broken down because the spectator now actively decides  meaning, no longer needing to sit powerlessly to one side”(Knight, 2010, p.237). Therefore, contemporary art screams for observers to find meaning and metaphor in it for themselves and children will greatly benefit from being given opportunity to explore their thoughts in this way (and develop more a connection with the work they are observing).

But why is being visually literate so important today?

An article on teaching expertise quotes Mary Alice White (a researcher as Columbia Teachers’ College) saying:

‘Young people learn more than half of what they know from visual information, but few schools have an explicit curriculum to show students how to think critically about visual data.’

This emphasises how important to support the development visual literacy within schools as it is vital in helping children understand the world around them.


Reference List

Knight, L. (2010)’ Why a Child Needs a Critical Eye, and Why the Art Classroom is Central in Developing it’, JADE 29.3, pp.236-244

Image credit

Exit Through the Gift Shop

21 Mar

This is a fantastic Banksy documentary centred around Thierry Guetto’s persuit of capturing  all major street artists working on video and his unlikely success in the world of street art using the pseudonym Mr. Brainwash (MBW). I rented this a few weeks ago and really enjoyed being able to see street artists at work including Banksy himself (heavily disguised of course!). You really see the speed benefits of stencils, pre-made posters and paste as these artists are constantly avoiding the police. But they really know how to make a billboad beautiful and meaningful.

Why Street Art?

15 Mar

I discovered Street Art when I was talking to one of my high school art teachers about wanting to create art which made a meaningful political statement. He recommended I look at Banksy.

It was love at first sight.

How could I not have known this artist before? Every statement he made through his clever imagery and quriky word play meant something to me. It was just so nice to see an artist standing up to our cultural deficit, our corporate over saturation and making a statement for justice, and for the place of art itself. Needless to say, I got ‘Wall and Piece’ that Christmas.

When I moved to Glasgow the next year (2008)  it was a fun game playing ‘find the Banksy’. I found this one outside a bank on Sauchiehall street. The image isn’t very good but it says “laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge”.

I also found another one outside an amazing teas house called Tchai-Ovna on Otago Lane in the West End. It was a child with a television for a head-but unfortunately I don’t appear to have a picture and can’t find one anywhere! And Otago Lane is under threat of destruction for re-development which is really sad because it is a wonderful little place. But there lies the impermanence of independent shops over massive corporations and of street art itself.

My interest in Street Art and Street artists expanded a couple of years ago after visiting Kelburn Castle. The whole castle was due to be re-rendered so the owners controversially welcomed the Brazilian Sao Paulo Crew street artists  to go free rein with their art on the outside. It was definitely a profound experience seeing a 13th century castle covered in bold, colourful, beautiful and quirky street art. The castle was truly breathtaking. A real juxtaposition of the old and new. Here are a couple of pictures:

More Questions?

10 Mar

I leave class this week with yet more questions. Good questions. Questions that fill me with a sense of wonder. My lecturer asked;

“What is creativity?”

I  think this dumb founded most of us. How can we explain something so abstract, incorporeal and so innate in what humans do? He proceeded to explain how thinker, Ken Robinson, described it as “applied imagination”. But this led to a bigger question, a much more beautiful question;

“What is imagination?”

Most of us were much more readily able to respond to this one with answers such as “pictures in your mind” and “making things up”. However, no-one could explain such a thing quite so eloquently as Ken Robinson’s words, “the ability to bring to mind what is not present”. Though I am sure many years of study and many a thesis could be written addressing this one question. So I will leave my mind to ponder.

I started to think about why imagination is so important. I always felt it was. At school and at university I have always found the most enjoyable learning experiences are the ones where the most imagination is required. Drawing again on one of my favourite quotes;

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Albert Einstein

This emphasises the importance  of children having imaginative learning experiences because they are the future and the future depends on all they are able to create.

I do not think for a second imaginative and creative learning in education is limited to the arts. We would not have all of our scientific and technological advances if it was not for creativity and imagination. However, the transferable skills of problem solving, being imaginative and creative are very acessible from the arts, in this case, the visual arts.

In this weeks class (9/3/11) we all collaborated in mark making with ink and making sense of these marks with black ink pens. I had never thought about how colour in the initial stages of art complicates things- but then when I think more about it- I always start painting by limiting myself to shades of blue. Does a certain amount of limitation foster creativity?

However, we also talked about how choosing a size of paper for children immediately limits their creativity as they are restricted to A4, A3 etc. A large piece of paper, like we used in this session immediately allows children to find their own space when producing art. So are some limitations when beginning to produce art better than others?

Here are some examples of our collaborative work. We all make marks with our hands and made sense of the marks and the spaces created by the marks using drawing pens.

I found myself slipping into creating some sort of surreal narrative. I drew a hill with creatures running up it with a cave that grew into a giant hand catching a butterfly. I also saw some of the marks as a cave system and drew a circular house with tiny people climing up a long ladder to feed a gigantic baby in a hammock…Given the freedom, my art work often becomes surreal and much to my enjoyment- is completely unpredictable.

I would definitely similar lessons with all stages of primary children. Creating together on large pieces of paper is great fun and a highly beneficial learning experience as we can be truly imaginative, unlimited and inspired by each other.

Welcome to my first ever constant digital stream of consciousness…

7 Mar

Do I know what I am doing? No.

Am I just pressing buttons and seeing what happens? Yes, I am!

However, in reflection of my first afternoon of Learning Through Art and Visual Culture, my head is simply swimming with some-what unrelated questions. I am a slave to the question mark. I am drowning in my own sense of conflicted curiosity. All I have is a desire to explode through some sort of artistic medium and this list of questions…I some what blame this Ken Robinson video…

The list of questions begins:-

-Is art a metaphor?

-Is art a state of mind?

-Is art philosophy?

-Is art what every interpreter makes of it?

-Is art everything?

-Is creativity itself some you feel, something you are, something you do,

something that cannot be explained through the confines of language?

-Is creativity playfulness?

-Are we all infinitely capable of innovation when we are born?

-Does the restrictions and regimentation of school destroy that spark in

children that could pave the way to a better future for us all?

-Should I be training to be an educator or a facilitator?

-Does education need to radically change to meet the demands of the future?

-What are the demands of the future?

-Why are so many children medicated and numbed with mind altering


-How much money are pharmaceutical companies making from

increased medication of children?

-Is this really necessary?

-Are the answers to some of these questions something I want explore through art in this module?

So many questions. I am sure I could go on. There must be more lodged in the abyss of my neural networks or swimming in some sort of etheric realm…

I will take solace and inspiration from a few favourite quotations.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Albert Einstein

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. “
Albert Einstein

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.”
Nikola Tesla

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”
Maria Montessori

I made this thinking about parallells between the growing foetus and the changing world (2007). It seemed relevant to this post.