The New Forest Decorative and Fine Arts Society was delighted to take pupils from three local schools to visit the Tate Modern gallery in London. Not only did we feel that it would be a good opportunity for pupils to see, first hand, some famous and interesting works, but more importantly, we wanted the pupils to feel that they had the right to have opinions about the art and also that their views and thoughts were valid.
Originally we had planned to visit the National Gallery but on the two dates we had booked there was a strike so many of the galleries would have been closed. Tate Gallery were excellent and provided us with a vast amount of educational material to support our visit.
We began by just walking through one or two galleries observing and sketching as the pupils felt they wished to. We then chose one or two of the paintings and one of our members – a retired lecturer in Art, discussed them with the pupils – encouraging comments and thoughts. Pupils were then asked to choose just one word which they felt would describe the painting or the emotions that it evoked in them.
Pupils were then asked to work in their school groups and choose one work that they wished to talk about. They all had to agree on the chosen piece and if there was dissension they had to explain to the rest of the group why they felt this particular work should be chosen. The conversations that arose as a result of this were most interesting! Finally the groups had to talk about their chosen work the the other pupils and answer questions.
As we left the pupils were buzzing and talking constantly about what they had seen (compared to the rather restrained and unsure walk at the beginning of the day. Clear evidence that not only had the pupils enjoyed themselves, but also that become more enthusiastic and confident about their opinions. Schools also reported that comments from the parents were how talkative and enthusiastic the children had been.