Raising Aspirations: Exploring Ancient Egyptian Art

img_5110I was recently contacted by a teacher from Tameside College’s  Aspirations Department (I love that there is such a department exists!) who teaches  a group of young people with learning disabilities (aged 16-20) on an Entry level 2 study programme.  They have been studying a BTEC unit titled Exploring Art,  where they had to plan and produce a piece of art within 15 weeks.

“In order to get some ideas and inspiration we visited Manchester Museum and as a result of that the learners chose Ancient Egypt as their theme. After viewing what the Museum had on display the students came up with some marvellous ideas.  Each learner made a mood board displaying their idea and the tools and equipment they planned on using to create their piece of art work and finally creating their own piece: the results were fantastic.”

Their teacher was really pleased to be able to share these images of the process and final outcomes for the BTEC unit and some comments from the learners who took part.

This is a wonderful example of the achievements that can come from an inspirational Museum visit. The learners should be very proud of their work and we’d be happy to have them revisit the Museum at any time!

Learner Comments from Aspirations, Tameside College

“We chose to make Egyptian masks that showed the make up the ladies wore in Ancient Egypt.  We were inspired by visiting the museum and by taking photographs of the hieroglyphics and we copied the colours and designs.”

“The museum had lots of interesting artefacts which gave me the idea of making a special display.  I made a pyramid, tomb design, and an oasis mirage.   I also wrote my name in hieroglyphics.  My visit to the museum inspired me to design my mood board and create my display.  I love Art and History.”

“When we first arrived at the Manchester Museum, it looked so beautiful that I feel like we should go there again. I enjoyed looking at the dinosaurs, but my favourite was the largest one (The Tyrannosaurus-rex). The other animals looked nice as well. Another thing that inspired me is that the museum tells you exactly what happened all those years ago. I also finished my mood board by finding the correct category for me. The pictures were fantastic and I loved looking at them. The museum had a big giant snake which I was standing behind when I had a picture took. I liked all the Egyptian models as well. I would love to see them all again. It looked absolutely perfect for a full day trip. And that is how Manchester Museum inspired me to work on and complete my artwork.”

“I found the visit to the museum fascinating and interesting because I learnt a lot about Ancient Egypt and Tutankhamun tomb. I was surprised to find out he was only 19 years old when he died in 1324, two years older than me. When I saw the pottery artefacts that  were found and displayed in the museum it inspired me to make my own display”

“When I visited the museum I had a really good time. I enjoyed looking at all the artefacts and I was inspired to design Egyptian clothes. The ancient Egypt exhibition was fun and enjoyable. I would really like to do it again.”

After the Bees: Post-apocolyptic Games Design

We were really proud to work with Preston College again this year, with further development on the brief for the BTEC Level 3 Games Development module. Their tutor, Chris, worked up this fantastic scenario for them (see below) and all the students visited the Museum in November to gather research and preliminary sketches.

Project Brief
A games developer has an idea for a post-apocalyptic game, set 100 years in the future – taking cues from games such as ‘The Last of Us’. The developer is working from a story based around the global extinction of bees and the hugely negative impact this could have on humanity.

Students are required to come up with three designs, which explore different story possibilities:

1) Design for an autonomous machine that pollinates flowers, taking over the job that the bees previously had
Image to be produced as a digital Photoshop painting.

2) Costume/character design – another direction the story may take is that the extinct bee population will be replaced with a much more aggressive species that can withstand mites and changes in climate. Unfortunately, they also kill indiscriminately to claim more territory and multiply at an alarming rate. As the governments are reeling from the financial meltdown caused by the collapse of the farming industry, only the very rich and privileged can afford protection from these killers. You must produce a costume/suit that keeps the bees from doing harm to the wearer, but also acts as a desirable status symbol.
Image to be produced in pen and ink.

3) Design for shady black-market area – As plants and crops cannot be pollinated, many ‘luxuries’ are now a rarity. The developer would like to see an illegal market, with store people selling coffee and fruit, amongst the poor surroundings.
Image to be produced in Pencil/charcoal, with emphasis on atmosphere.

The students had two months to develop their Project pieces and then, on 23rd January they returned to the Museum to present their final work. Listening to their presentations were Megan Powell – Artist behind Manchester Museum’s After the Bees exhibition; Cat Lumb – Secondary and Post-16 Humanities & Arts Co-ordinator; Leila Nicholson – bee expert from Manchester Metropolitan Univeristy; and Eve Bokor – a placement student with the Learning Team from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Here’s what Megan had to say about the students’ work:

“The students from Preston College presented an impressive project about bees, each created a world that was both imaginative and practically considered. It was evident that each student had extensively researched the bees and I was particularly inspired by the highly creative ‘pollinating machine’ designs.”

We were all really impressed by the thought that went into the game elements and how confidently the students presented their ideas on the day. It was fantastic to see the brief come to life in their work and every student demonstrated a creative angle of their own.

Take a look at the work they produced below:

Pollination Machines

 

Costume/Character Design

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Black Market Area

Using Collections to Write Poems: a Museum Staff Workshop by Helen Clare

Our Poet-in-Residence, Helen Clare, invited Museum staff to engage in a workshop to help them to create their own poem.  She shared with us the techniques she has used in creating her own poetry, which included the creation of ‘poemlets’ that we blogged about earlier this year. The activity also demonstrates that these techniques can be shared with visitors to facilitate using the collection as inspiration for creative writing.

helen-on-gallery

Helen on Manchester Gallery sharing her poem writing techniques with staff

Using this poemlet technique as a starting point staff were asked to find 3 or 4 objects that inspired them on from our Manchester Gallery and then use a line from their resulting poemlets to develop a longer rhyming poem. In the spirit of sharing, here’s three of my poemlets and the resulting poem I developed using various lines from each.

Once upon a time in Manchester,
Sharp and clean but only now;
A giant cat sauntered here.  – Lion’s Tooth

Illegal, bad and guilty,
A thing of beauty: look at me!
Some things were not made for blood. – Dagger

Spices, smells, so many options built over time.
Fill me, use me, breathe in my tangy scent.
Cultures clashing: a pinch of spice for everyone. – Spice Rack

Poem: Culture Clash
Some things are not made for blood,
Sharp and clean, now used for good.
The owner, once a feared man, lost in history, all but gone.
Cultures clashing: a pinch of spice for everyone.

A thing of beauty: look at me.
Come slowly closer, what might you see?
A forgotten daughter, parents and abandoned son,
Cultures clashing: a pinch of spice for everyone.

I have to say, for a Monday morning activity I am surprisingly pleased with my effort given that we only had around 40 minutes to spend on our poems. The techniques are easy enough to suggest to visitors as an activity, and we got to hear some of Helen’s Museum-inspired poetry, which is always a treat.

It can be daunting [to write poetry] but actually it was quite inspiring. It was a safe environment and Helen was very encouraging. To start out the week creating something was lovely.” – feedback from staff member.

helen-on-lc

Staff share some of their poemlets on Living Cultures

The instructions for the staff workshop can be found on Helen’s blog, but you don’t have to be a member of staff to have a go yourself. And if you can’t make it to the Museum, check out our Flickr account to see pictures of many of our objects and galleries for inspiration.

Feel free to share your work in our comments section below.


Helen will be showcasing her new schools workshop developed from this Arts Council funded project during the October Half Term.

Juice from Oranges, Rocks from Space
Wed 26 Oct
11.30am – 12.15pm & 1.30-2.15pm
A new poetry performance from Helen Clare, about exhibits from around the museum; where they came from and the journey they’ve made. There will be happy poems, sad poems, gory poems and fun poems – and opportunities for children to join in and create too.

Find out about the giant carved tusk, a moth, bloodworms, a man who was murdered and left to rot in a bog, a Greek God, Stan the T. Rex, and an ancient rock from out of space.

For children aged 8-12 and their parents/carers
Free, book on mcrmuseum.eventbrite.com or 0161 275 2648

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Museum-inspired computer game characters

Before the festive break, we were delighted to support a Games Development project called ‘Chimera’, undertaken by first year Level 3 BTEC students at Preston’s College. Their brief called for a creature to be designed for use in a video game. The creature needed to have some biological basis in reality to create the illusion of something both familiar and at the same time, completely unique.

To help their design process the students visited Manchester Museum and spent the day sketching, collecting reference photography and taking part in an artist-led session using Museum specimens.

After a lot of development work back at college, the students came back to the Museum and presented their final designs to Museum staff to gain feedback. It was fascinating hearing how the designs had been created and how the visit to the Museum had inspired the students.

The project in conjunction with Manchester Museum was extremely valuable for our students. We were given access to the wide array of exhibitions on offer, had help from experts in their respective fields and we finalised our project by having our students present their work in front of a panel at the Museum. The experience has helped contextualise our students’ learning and we received constructive and supportive feedback from museum staff. The students enjoyed the challenge of the project and our staff were very grateful for such professionalism and enthusiasm from the museum staff.” – Graphics Tutor

Here are their design results:

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