International Journal of Art & Design Education

2005 - Volume 24: Number 1

Download’: ‘Postcards Home’

Contemporary Art and New Technology in the Primary School


Volume 24.1

‘Postcards Home’ using photography, scanning, digital image manipulation, text and colour printing was the third ‘Download’ project devised by the education department of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England. It was led by artist Laurie Long with teachers and pupils from Pooles Park primary school in Islington, an inner city borough in North London. Based on the production of a postcard featuring an image of personal significance, the children were involved in exploring and constructing their own and others’ identities whilst developing their technology skills in creative ways. The project raises interesting questions about the applicability of contemporary art practices to the primary classroom. The research is based on participant observation and includes the voices of the artist and teachers involved.

Expressing the Not-Said: Art and Design and the Formation of Sexual Identities


Volume 24.1

Central to this paper is an analysis of the work produced by a year 10 student in response to the ‘Expressive Study’ of the art and design GCSE (AQA 2001). I begin by examining expressivism within art education and turn to the student’s work partly to understand whether the semi-confessional mode she chose to deploy is encouraged within this tradition. The tenets of expressivism presuppose the possibility that through the practice of art young people might develop the expressive means to give ‘voice’ to their feelings and come to some understanding of self. I therefore look at the way she took ownership of the ‘expressive’ imperative of the title by choosing to explore her emerging lesbian identity and its position within the normative, binary discourses on sex and sexual identity that predominate in secondary schools. Within schooling there is an absence of formal discussion around sex, sexual identity and sexuality other than in the context of health and moral education and, to some extent, English. This is surprising given the emphasis on self-exploration that an art and design expressive study would seem to invite. In order to consider the student’s actions as a situated practice I examine the social and cultural contexts in which she was studying. With reference to visual semiotics and the theoretical work of Judith Butler, I interpret the way she uses visual resources not only to represent her emerging sexual identity but to counter dominant discourses around homosexuality in schools. I claim that through her art practice she enacts the ‘name of the law’ to refute the binary oppositions that underpin sex education in schools. This act questions the assumptions about the purpose of expressive activities in art education with its psychologically inflected rhetoric of growth and selfhood and offers a mode of expressive practice that is more socially engaged and communicative.

The Four Directions


Volume 24.1

This article presents the Native American cultural symbol, the Four Directions, as a sign that is culturally evident and inter-tribally significant. Through understanding the significance of the symbol, a deeper understanding is possible for non-Natives, especially an understanding of the Native Americans’ relationship between their artwork and their culture. It will be argued that through a deeper understanding and cultural saturation by non-Natives that cultural misinformation can be reduced. Even though the article makes no attempt to define a culture, community, or person, cultural groups are presented through image and story.

Killing the Goose: Conflicts between Pedagogy and Politics in the Delivery of a Creative Education


Volume 24.1

This article arises out of a research project which looks at the promotion of creativity in pre-degree and undergraduate learners in art and design. The project considers ‘conceptual’ definitions of creativity and its promotion which have been evidenced by research, and ‘operational’ definitions and delivery methods used by lecturers and students in the art & design sector. The theoretical understandings and empirical evidence thus gained reveal the continuing existence of a radical and potentially effective pedagogic idealism within art & design education. However, a comparison between theory, experience and current realities, leads us to the conclusion that the existence of this educational desideratum is threatened by the commodification of education and the over-elaborate monitoring which accompanies it. This is a personal and somewhat polemical view but, we believe, one that is also widely held in the sector. We suggest that a re-affirmation of experiential evidence is essential to counter the impact of an increasingly audit-driven approach to education which focuses on outcomes rather than process and on systems rather than individuals.

When Adolescents Represent the Third Dimension: Three Case Studies


Volume 24.1

The main focus of this article is the representation of the third dimension. The sample is sixty adolescent 14-year-olds. Our research is concerned with the study of the drawings of the same array of 3D objects in three cases: the representation of 3D objects without the presence of models (through verbal instructions), by observation of physical models, and by observation of their digital models on a computer screen.

The study examines the drawing techniques applied by adolescents to represent the 3rd dimension and the impact of the model (3D physical or digital model) in the drawing outcome.

A comparison study of the three kinds of drawings of the same array of objects showed that 14-year-old children face serious difficulties in depicting the third dimension in the absence of a model, using mainly a mixture of drawing devices typical of earlier stages, according to theories of drawing development. On the other hand, when drawing from observation, the nature of the model seems to play an important role in the drawing outcome, with a clear superiority in performance when the model is digital. The findings of this study suggest that the more extended use of 3D models, either physical or digital, could help the better understanding of spatial relationships and evoke the use of more advanced drawing techniques for the depiction of 3D layouts. The study also suggests that a better understanding of the nature of graphic development in adolescence is essential for many areas of the curriculum.

Drawings of Emotionally Characterised Figures by Children from Different Educational Backgrounds


Volume 24.1

Previous research has shown that children systematically alter the size and colour of their drawings in response to the emotional character of the figures which they draw. However, these findings have been demonstrated only with children receiving mainstream Western education. This experiment was designed to investigate whether children receiving a different kind of education also use scaling and colour differentially for depicting figures of contrasting emotional significance. 76 children, 44 children from mainstream schools (21 boys, 23 girls) and 32 children from Steiner schools (15 boys, 17 girls) were divided into two age groups, with 38 children in the younger age group (mean age 4 years 7 months) and 38 in the older age group (mean age 6 years 8 months). All children completed three drawings of differentially characterised human figures: a neutral, a happy, and a sad figure. Children from the mainstream schools drew larger figures overall, but educational background did not interact with the specific emotional character of the figures in producing these scaling changes. However, there were differences between the two educational groups in relation to the colours used for the negatively characterised figures. The findings are discussed in terms of the need to further understand the role of the educational system in mediating children’s depictions of emotional character in their drawings.

Discussing Art and Design Education: Themes from Interviews with UK Design Stakeholders


Volume 24.1

This article presents discussion of art and design education in interviews conducted with 31 UK design stakeholders. To provide a coherent path through the data, quotes from interviewees are presented under the following themes: Choosing art and design; A natural talent for designing?; Developing the designer; Personal development. The author suggests that the views presented here relate to larger debates currently taking place in the field of art and design education. A particular thread running through the discussion is the intensely personal relationship that those following an art and design path have with their subject. This level of personal investment makes art and design more than just another educational or career option. Art and design education must therefore continue to develop pedagogical models which respond to the need for individual learning based on a development of personal creativity.

Integrating Art Education Models: Contemporary Controversies in Spain


Volume 24.1

In this article, a basic controversy for art education in Spain is analysed, and its antecedents in thought and social and artistic practices are reviewed. The controversy refers to the question whether school art education should be oriented towards the fine arts or towards the manual arts. Consequently, which should be the cultural model of reference in contemporary art education? These two controversies are considered as two dimensions whose poles have, to a certain extent, the capacity to articulate various educational trends. The values associated with each pole of each dimension are discussed: for the first dimension, creativity, originality, self-efficacy and the value of accomplished work; for the second, increase of cultural capital and intercultural solidarity. Finally, the possibility is considered of elaborating educational models that would integrate the various mentioned educative values. The question is raised of the compatibility of these educational values, and it is pointed out that art education has the capacity to generate educational spaces of interchange and dialogue in which to combine languages and perspectives that can contribute to human development and to the mutual coexistence of social groups.