9 May – 12 August 2018
This summer, the National Gallery will showcase the work of children from across the UK in the 23rd annual 'Take One Picture' exhibition.
Each year the Gallery invites primary schools nationwide to focus on one of its paintings and respond creatively to its themes and subject matter, historical context, or composition.
With the aim of promoting the visual arts across the curriculum and inspiring a lifelong love of art, this year the National Gallery selected Pintoricchio’s Penelope with the Suitors as the source of inspiration.
From studies in portraiture and printmaking to flag designs and depictions of voyages, the exhibition will feature a diverse range of works reflecting the richness of creative responses to the story of Odysseus and Penelope, which the children discovered through Pintoricchio’s painting.
'Penelope with the Suitors' is one of a series of works painted in around 1509 for a room in the Petrucci Palace in Siena. The woman at the loom is Penelope, wife of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's 'Odyssey'. During Odysseus’ long absence after the Trojan War she is besieged by suitors but refuses to consider their advances until she has finished weaving her father-in-law's shroud. Reluctant to remarry, she unpicks by night what she weaves by day.
Year 5 pupils from Carterhatch Junior School, London, recognised that Penelope, with all her suitors, had choices and so was in a position of power. The children researched female role models and considered how they would wish to be depicted and remembered.
“We did a practice painting before we painted on our canvas. I’m really glad that we did because painting on the canvas was trickier than I thought, it’s not like painting on paper,” said Emil aged 10.
Years 4, 5, and 6 pupils from Limespring School, London started their project with a visit to the National Gallery where a guide introduced them to the painting. Limespring is a school for children with specific learning differences such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. The children read the 'Adventures of Odysseus' in their literacy lessons and were fascinated by mythical creatures in the stories and in the painting. Throughout the project the pupils used a wide variety of materials and a range of new techniques to create the mythical creatures through drawings, sculpture, bookmaking, and printing.
“I loved making monsters,” said Atticus aged 7.
Year 4 pupils from the Paragon Junior School, Somerset focused on the theme of voyages. Inspired by the work of St Ives painter Alfred Wallis, the children created seascapes, drew sailing boats, and experimented with a range of blue paints for the sea, while using maps of Cornwall for their backgrounds. The idea of connecting locations across the maps with woven and sewn lines came from a discussion about the journey lines found in indigenous Australian art.
“We learnt about the importance of the colour blue in the painting and experimented in our art lessons. I loved creating a stormy sea using a range of blue shades. I also liked drawing from the model boats my teacher had. The best part was stitching journeys from one place on the map to another,” said Eve aged 8.
Other episodes from 'The Odyssey' can be seen in 'Penelope with the Suitors'; looking through the window we see Odysseus strapped to the mast of his ship to endure the enchanting song of the sirens. The story inspired literacy-based responses, from research into famous explorers to writing letters to Odysseus. Other cross-curricular links included digital animation, junk-modelling, and colour mixing, to support practical skills development in art and design.
Gill Hart, Head of Education at the National Gallery, says:
“Once again we're surprised and delighted by the many ways in which pupils, their teachers, and their communities have used cross-curricular links to respond to our paintings. This year's exhibition will take all our visitors on a magical odyssey of creativity, encountering women of power, and mythical and magical sea creatures along the way.”
'Take One Picture' is generously supported by The Dorset Foundation.
The schools represented in the 2018 display are:
- Baring Primary School, London
- Bilton Church of England Junior School, Rugby
- Caroline Chisholm School, Northamptonshire
- Carterhatch Junior School, London
- Cleveland Road Primary School, Ilford
- Farringtons School, Chislehurst
- Glendower Prep School, London
- Grafton School, London
- King's Meadow Primary School, Bicester
- Kingswood Primary School, Gloucestershire
- Limespring School, London
- Little Hallingbury C of E Primary School, Essex
- Maple Walk School, London
- Parsonage Farm Nursery and Infant School, Hampshire
- Rhodes Avenue Primary School, London
- Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Teddington
- Southern Road Primary School, London
- St Benedict's School, Ealing
- St Christopher's School, London
- St. Faith’s C.E Primary School, Hampshire
- St Martin de Porres Catholic Primary School, Bedfordshire
- The Paragon Junior School, Somerset
- The St. Christopher School Academy Trust, Essex
- Towers Infant School, Essex
- Wells Cathedral Junior School, Somerset
- Wyke Regis Primary Federation, Dorset
Ysgol Gynradd Creigiau Primary School, Cardiff
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 'Take One Picture'
Launched in 1995, 'Take One Picture' is the National Gallery’s countrywide scheme for primary schools. Each year the Gallery focuses on one painting from the collection to inspire cross-curricular work in primary classrooms. As part of a one-day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course at the Gallery, teachers are given a print of a painting and a soundscape that the National Gallery has put together. The challenge is then for schools to use the image imaginatively in the classroom, both as a stimulus for artwork, and for work in more unexpected curriculum areas.
Each year a display of work produced by schools based on the painting is shown at the National Gallery, and a selection is published on the National Gallery website. In order to be considered for the display, schools submit examples of how a whole class or school has used the picture in a cross-curricular way to the Gallery’s Education Department by a set date.
Further information about the programme, related CPD courses for teachers, and the annual Take One Picture exhibition at the National Gallery can be found at nationalgallery.org.uk/learning/teachers-and-schools.
Bernardino di Betto of Perugia (active 1481; died 1513), called Pintoricchio (or Sordicchio), mainly worked in Siena, but also in Rome and Perugia. Many authenticated works by him exist. His most important works are in the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican and in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral. His painting of Penelope with the Suitors in the collection is from the Petrucci Palace in Siena.
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