Words in Art

Words in Art

The huge steel sheet with cut out letters outside the Titanic Museum in Belfast is the simplest form of the use of words in art. The sculpture uses steel of the same thickness as the hull of the famous ship to spell out the name. In Dundee there is a memorial to the hard-working women and children of Dundee's jute industry which quotes a song and a poem. In Altringham letters are inscribed in steel with words to welcome visitors to the town and in Glasgow a large stainless steel cylinder has the words of a poem around it.

Are these objects art or are they just a different way of displaying text? Words have a defined meaning and are used together to tell a story or transmit information but should they be used in sculpture and painting?

You decide and then have a go at writing some text for a sculpture or a painting.

Key Stage:

KS 2 English, KS2&3 Art


This lesson can be used to:
- start a creative writing project.
- help develop writing skills particularly writing for an audience with a lower reading age.
- begin an investigation into posters, slogans and campaigns.

<b> Examples of Words in Art - Jute Women</b>

Examples of Words in Art - Jute Women

Similar to the Titantic sculpture here again the words are cut out of metal sheet. This work is a memorial to the hard-working women and children of Dundee's bygone jute industry. The sculpture was the idea of a local resident who had been a jute weaver in her early years. She had campaigned that jute workers should be recognised for their contribution to Dundee. The text cut into the curved steel plates quotes a song and a poem.
<b> Examples of Words in Art - Altrincham Totem</b>

Examples of Words in Art - Altrincham Totem

A lacquered steel, metal slab inscribed with words which are intended to announce a visitors arrival at the town and welcome local residents home. The work contains the repeated words 'Altrincham Market Town 1290' which light up at night.
<b> Examples of Words in Art - The Tree that Never Grew</b>

Examples of Words in Art - The Tree that Never Grew

Three views of a work by Jennifer Grant that is composed of stainless steel letters that make a poem that spirals up the column in Glasgow, Scotland.

Discuss the question...Is this a sculpture or is it a poem?
Or is it both?
<b> All Schools Should be Art Schools</b>

All Schools Should be Art Schools

This work by Bob and Roberta Smith has a simple message which you may or not agree with.

Is it a sculpture?
Is it a painting?
Is it a sign?
Is it a slogan?
All of the above?
Vote now and then discuss the results of your poll.
<b> Peas Are the New Beans</b>

Peas Are the New Beans

This painting by Bob and Roberta Smith is bright, colourful and features an original slogan created by the artist.

What slogan would you put on a painting? What would you campaign for? It could be serious or trivial but it must be short and catchy.
<b> I Believe in Joseph Mallard William Turner</b>

I Believe in Joseph Mallard William Turner

This is another painting by Bob and Roberta Smith. Joseph Millard William Turner was one of the greatest British painters of all time.

Who would you honour? Choose your own hero and make your own version of this painting.

I Believe in template

If you are struggling with lettering you could get started by using our template and then add your own hero and colour scheme. Be creative with your choice of colours and role models.

Download I believe in template.pdf

Development Activity:

Elsewhere on CultureStreet there is a creative writing workshop delivered by Seven Stories the Centre for the children's book in Newcastle upon Tyne which includes a number of exercises to help make starting writing easier.
Imaginative writing workshop
If you want to find out more about the Titanic sculpture in Belfast then watch this short film made by a group of young people from a Northern Ireland Primary school.
A sculpture near you - Titantic

Learning Objectives:

Through using this lesson plan students should:
-Show imagination through the language used to create emphasis, humour, atmosphere or suspense.
-Write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences.
-Reflect independently and critically on their own writing and edit and improve it.

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan