Some one else’s lesson plan…

There is an exhibition at our local gallery which is so my kind of thing, something I totally understand doing, and that in an alternate universe I could imagine making….

I could write 1000s of words as to why it’s awesome. But did it speak to Helena? There are attributes we share that we probably share with the artist, like collecting “rubbish”, discarded life.


But we were there on a kids tour/education programme. The lesson plan went something along the lines of: Us sitting as a group at the beginning for a short chat about what could you see. Then we were given a few questions to talk about in family groups (didn’t work for us as we’d been before and although they’d run about like mad things they had observed so much so needed ideas from people we didn’t know). Then the kids went into the art room and were introduced to the concept of working from a grid to get an accurate picture. They were shown some funny examples. Then they were given a piece of paper with a grid and a photocopy of a food box with a grid on it to copy. The teacher did have a photo of the artist looking and taking detailed photos of a fence he’d recreated in fabric that was in the corner of the gallery.


Helena’s work but wrong packet (a different kind with a different arrangement of ingredients). Check out the important Health Star Rating – that was done first.

We had been to the exhibition before and we’d also done grids for drawing/mapping/puzzles before. Watching Helena work I saw her doing the task as well as attempting to see ALL the interactions between ALL the other kids and adults. Hence her having to hurry a bit, being ‘slow’ and ‘not finishing.’ Her friend was on task, a hard drawing task that I don’t think he’d ever choose, and for the whole time – a rare thing, well if I was to asign a task..ha ha ha. I left the art room because I know I interfere and I am in the category of adult they can reject any instructions from, and I have prior knowledge and expectations….. this was just as well as Helena’s friend told me excitedly that he and the child sitting with him (not Helena!) had made several mistakes they’d corrected that would probably have been able to be issues if I was there.

After we left the group we checked out another room which had art that so totally complimented some of the ideas of Jay Hutchison but wasn’t mentioned on the tour – another way of looking at/celebrating the un-noticed. Helena spent a long time looking at this.

These are paintings of rubbish? mini sculptures? and glowing photos of them.

After we left the gallery, Helena and her friend did more work after I excitedly started the ball rolling by pointing at something. We were looking at signs with a view to paint part of them, looking at the details, especially the bird poo or any imperfection.

What did Helena think? “About the rubbish?” “Fine, cool” “If you dropped one of those on the ground more people are going to pick it up and less people are going to drop it and maybe they could use the material or something.”

“I didn’t like the lesson because it’s hard to make everything the same.”  then Helena talked enthusiastically about her doodle (drawing) book which has characters and plot. When I showed her her picture she said.. “then I did scribbles because I couldn’t be bothered doing the writing”.

I have high expectations (time, observation, participation, high order thinking etc) of children in galleries, we often go. I guess I wanted more than I could provide content wise. The kids responded to the whole adult dictated task thing better than they would for me so maybe that’s what they learnt – skills in listening to “experts” and following instructions, not being able to harangue the instruction giver.

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