Explore paintings through drama
Starting work with your class
Start by looking at 'An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump' with the class, using the suggestions in Reading Paintings to open up responses and develop genuine enquiry and exploration.
Drop in any relevant background information only when it will enable the class to make further connections but keep the information about the bird for a subsequent session when this will become the focus attention.
Ask the class to decide what figures in the painting interest them the most. Then bring the painting to life in the room by creating it as a freeze frame. Once the figures have taken their place, the rest of the class can suggest moments of dialogue that might be taking place or the thoughts that are going on in the minds of the characters.
This will enable the class to begin to imagine into the moment in the household that is shown in the painting.
Introduce background information
Once this moment, created by Joseph Wright 'of Derby', has been brought to life in the classroom, the events that lead up to it can be created.
At this point the class will need some background information to be able to add depth and relevant reference to their work. Two things in particular need to be introduced:
- The role of the travelling scientist and what he is doing at the house.
- The cockatoo and its special place in the household as an exotic and expensive pet.
The class will need to research some information about cockatoos that will be useful in the rest of the work.