Rebecca Heaton on Art and Design Education

Investigating cognition in the creative arts.


#Drawing August

A trending event on twitter #DrawingAugust brought artists from all over the country together to experiment with the medium of drawing. Artists created a drawing a day for the entire month. Inspired by the challenge I experimented with 5 minute drawing creations each day in a range of different media: The question is- what constitutes drawing?




iPads and innovation

After attending two great iPad professional development courses hosted by Apple Education and the iPad Academy at Enysham Hall and Silverstone Study Centre it became apparent just how prolific the shift in teaching and learning pedagogy is when mobile technology is involved. The creative potential is phenomenal, teachers become facilitators and active learners alongside their students. Fantastic case studies by staff and pupils at Bure Park Primary School: Bicester and the Essa Academy demonstrated how mobile devices have changed teaching and learning in their schools for the better. Both schools identified the importance of enabling pupils to explore skills which may be used in the work place while also mentioning how mobile technologies allowed pupils to explore their world as it changed while keeping up to date with technological developments. Academic progress was not forgotten, by learning alongside each other and through focused personalised learning it was identified that the increased access to instant communicative forms may have had an impact on language development and significantly on creative/ problem solving techniques.

Interesting apps that were explored to aid the practice of teaching included:

Explain everything, book creator, puppet pals, showbie, socrative, pinnacle animation, comic life and green screen to name but a few.

The highlights for me being explain everythingphotospeak and animation hd. Explain everything could transform your classroom changing the way that you approach teaching- children can assess themselves, pre-record responses to questions, share work with others, break steps down and literally explain anything in really creative ways! Photospeak can bring characters to life, children can vocalise their ideas through alternative characters and this could be a really interesting/ motivating way to introduce a new topic, story or idea to children. Animation hd allows the pupils to become the directors of their own animations, the artistic potential here is also huge; children can bring their characters and stories to life!

Enjoy your explorations into the world of mobile technologies! Please add any innovate stories of mobile technologies and creative journeys to this post!




Miro: Eastfield Primary School and The University of Northampton in partnership

Joan Miro, Figures at Night Guided by the Phosphorescent Tracks of Snails, 1940Joan Miro, Morning Star, 1940

Using one artists work to stimulate creative education can lead to innovative and inspiring outcomes. Working in collaboration with Eastfield Academy Nursery on project Miro I am becoming aware of the impact of collaboration on creative learning opportunities and the need to allow children the autonomy to personalise their own learning. Exploring one artists work in depth enables you to go on a learning journey with your pupils, you can find out and research new opportunties  across all areas of education, sharing the learning experience. This concept of journeys has inspired a creative week exploring Miro where Eastfield Academy and The University of Northampton are collaborating and allowing the Nursery children to immerse themselves in Miro. The outcomes are unknown and the creative journey will be shared with parents at the end of the week. Really exciting ideas have been developed just through staff collaboration around the idea, here is a short selection of activities that will be on offer:

The use of iPads to document Miro journeys- Nursery children as video directors

Meeting Miro

Exploration of journeys through Miro’s paintings

Creative activities inspired by fantasy spaces using Miro works as a stimulus- Miro dance, drawing and installation

Action painting- rolling, bouncing, dropping and twisting balls in paint to create movement in art

The collection of found objects to create sculptures exploring shape, form, tone and colour in the work of Miro

Explore project Miro and this blog for updates on our outcomes!


iPads in Education @ Silverstone Study Centre

As most of us are aware iPads can have a huge impact on creative and digital learning in Education. Silverstone Study Centre host interesting and inspiring courses held at the Circuit to demonstrate innovative ways that educators can engage pupils in digital learning. A few apps/web apps that I became aware of, after an engaging day at the circuit, which may be useful for creative educators include: Near Pod, Auryn Ink, Phyzios Sculpture and Kids Paint. There are fantastic art apps around which offer a new sensory and digital art experience for pupils, however it is also important  to remember the learning taking place through engagement with these and to consider how they can be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for other artistic methods. Teachers: I invite you to share any innovative ideas you have of how you have united apps and the arts in education.

PGCE students at The University of Northampton used the app pic collage to experiment with digital photography outside the classroom exploring modes of perception to engage with the natural world through art and design. There is huge potential here to explore the formal elements of art: line, tone, colour, texture and pattern through photography with children.


Tate Modern: Language, Learning and Litchenstein

Sometimes we can underestimate the power of art to promote dialogue and language development. After a thought provoking day at the Tate Modern Art and Language Workshop, working with the enthusiastic multimedia artist Emma Hart my understanding of the power of art to provoke words has spiralled. The relationship between thought, words, art and interpretation is compelling; without a doubt exploring contemporary art with children could influence literary development and fuel enthusiasm and creativity.

Here are some great activities experienced on the day that you could use to engage children with works of art: the value being to make the work encountered accessible for all and to give pupils a voice!

Before and After Thoughts…

Observe the work encountered. What piece of work did the artist make prior to this one? How? Why?

What came next? Can you draw it, act it, explain it?

Word Worm…

As a group create a line encompassing the work. Each person says one word to create a sentence about the work… what meaning is evoked? Word play and power evoke your imagination.

Verb or Verbalising…

Explore how the artwork makes you feel on viewing. In pairs observe the artwork, one person writes down the verbs the other partner is vocalising to describe how they are feeling in the space. Remember to vocalise verbs that you are feeling/ encountering- trembling, questioning, sweating rather than those about the artwork. Look inwards- art may have the ability to evoke a response in us. Explore language: adjectives, similes, metaphors  and have fun!

Emma Hart and the Tate team really inspired the way that I will approach my own teaching uniting art and language highlighting how important social collaboration is in this process; so thank you also to all participants who took part and have changed my thinking.

Whaam! 1963 by Roy Lichtenstein 1923-1997

Another highlight was the Roy Litchenstein exhibition, a must see! I was blown away by the diversity and quantity of the work he created, famed for his pop art the exhibition really brought to light the vast influences from advertising (again showcasing the power of word play), movements such as Art Deco and the work of a whole range of influential artists- was Litchenstein inspired or making a statement about their testimonials? The viewer can decide….



VOCES8 Perform at the Stahl Theatre, Oundle.

An evening of exquisite a cappella was experienced by many at the Stahl theatre in Oundle last night. As a new appreciator of VOCES8 I was astounded by the groups ability to create artistic mastery through vocal exploration. Each number evoked a diverse emotional and cognitive  response, leaving the audience to contemplate their own imagination inspired by sound. Drawing on a range of musical genres VOCES8 demonstrated the power of the human voice to create exquisite works of art;  this heightened my awareness of valuing the importance of sound experimentation as a necessary aspect of art education with the students and pupils which I teach. I am sure this ethos is shared by VOCES8 themselves who collaborated with students from Oundle School to create musical innovations. May I invite people to comment on their participation in any musical collaborations uniting practice in the arts and education to enable practitioners of the future to understand the benefits of this process for all participants.

Many thanks VOCES8 for opening my eyes to a range of musical possibilities.


Learning outside the classroom!

An inspiring event: creativity and education united.

Working with PGCE students to create art outside the classroom led to truly divergent thinking! Inspired by the natural environment the students engaged with their surroundings, a local park, to link art across the curriculum; demonstrating just how accessible it is to provide truly inspirational and rich learning experiences for children outdoors. Students experimented with diverse ways of looking and engaging with nature using mirrors, viewfinders, iPads, their own bodies and artistic materials to explore the world in a new way. As a result sculptural forms were created and a collaborative installation depicting hanging creations from the day combined with thoughtful reflections on the experience produced. The final piece titled, ‘Perception tree’ demonstrates the creativity and reflexivity of our next generation of teachers while valuing the importance of the process of learning and reflection in art and design education.  Thank you to all participants!


Hayward Gallery Light Show Review

Audience perceptions were challenged by the complexity of experiences on offer. Toying with all senses the exhibition evoked mixed reactions. Enthralled by the intuitive nature of one child’s comments on the work of Jim Campbell; in which it was noted that light replicated the moving image, I further consolidated my opinion of the value of listening to pupil voice when exposed to art in a gallery context. Galleries can allow children to access a platform of expression, which is equal to that of any other individual, enabling them to question and extend their knowledge and understanding of the world.

This was a truly breathtaking exhibition uniting exploration into capitalism, consumerism and the relationship between human interaction and light in our unquantifiable world!