Ordinary landscapes

Ordinary landscapes

Sculptor Erin Dickson and painter George Shaw both make work about ordinary landscapes that have meaning for them. These ordinary places are views normally overlooked or taken for granted such as back lanes, derelict buildings, old garages. Why should we be bothered about views that are unremarkable? Should artists just make work about beautiful sunsets or pretty countryside? Find out more about these artists and make work inspired by ordinary views that you see everyday.

Key Stage:

KS2,3&4 Art and Design


A lesson plan inspired by the work of sculptor Erin Dickson and painter George Shaw
This lesson can be used:
-to develop drawing skills and use of sketchbooks to develop ideas
-to produce creative work, exploring their ideas
-evaluate and analyse creative works

Erin Dickson

Erin Dickson makes work in glass. The window series of sculptures depict houses in which the artist has lived in Sunderland and South Shields. The views are all very similar of ordinary back lanes or urban streets. You can find out more about her and her work by watching this film.

George Shaw

George Shaw is a painter perhaps most famous for his depictions of the area of Coventry where he grew up. Unusually these paintings are made not with oil paint but with the type of paint used for painting model aeroplanes.
You can find out more about him and his work by watching this film made in 2011 when he was nominated for the Turner prize.
<b>Artists approach</b>

Artists approach

Both artists take a realistic approach to depicting the landscapes they live or grew up in. Dickson uses digital images to make her sculptures and painter George Shaw works from photographs. Both artists choose views that are unremarkable, back alleys, bus stops, garages the kind of views we take for granted. They choose to show the views without any people.
<b>Classroom Activity</b>

Classroom Activity

The approach both artists take is very personal to them. Try applying the same rules to yourself. Firstly take a look at the views around you, out your window, on the journey to school and back or very close to where you live. Look for unremarkable views that you know well and mean something to you but maybe very few other people. Photograph these views.
<b>Classroom Activity cont</b>

Classroom Activity cont

Now choose the best image to develop into a piece of work. The best image maybe the one that means most to you or just stands out as your favourite. You are certainly not looking for the prettiest image or any colourful sunsets. You could try applying some filters to your image using a photo editing tool to help you choose and then print. Working from the photograph now quickly sketch the view in your sketchbook and write notes about how you might develop the image into a drawing, painting, sculpture, collage or print.
<b>Classroom Activity cont</b>

Classroom Activity cont

Finally develop your image into whatever medium you feels most comfortable with. This could be a coloured pencil drawing, an acrylic or oil painting, a clay sculpture, a collage of old magazines or a simple print like we have done. The choice of the view and the choice of the way of depicting it are up to you. When it is finished go back to your sketchbook and write notes as to how it could have been better.

Development Activity:

On Art UK there are many more landscape paintings of ordinary places. If you search 'landscapes' 1,402 results are found. Why not look at the first few pages of results and decide how many of them are ordinary places that the artists were familiar with and how many are places the artists chose to paint because they were considered special.
Elsewhere on CultureStreet we have a lesson plan which examines the work of two artists treatment of the same subject in this case the sea. Two views of the Sea looks at the work of Charles Napier Hemy and his painting Through sea and air and The Wave by the most famous Japanese artist and printmaker Hokusai.

Learning Objectives:

Through using this lesson plan students should:
-Develop ideas through investigations, demonstrating critical understanding of sources.
-learn about the history of art, craft, design and architecture, including periods, styles and major movements from ancient times up to the present day.
-use a range of techniques to record their observations in sketchbooks, journals and other media as a basis for exploring their ideas
-analyse and evaluate their own work, and that of others, in order to strengthen the visual impact or applications of their work. In addition know and understand how sources inspire the development of ideas. For example, drawing on: the work and approaches of artists, craftspeople or designers from contemporary and/or historical contexts, periods, societies and cultures

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan