Cross-curricular activity: Art & Design and History
This combined Art & Design and History activity, which focuses on symbols in art, can be explored in a follow-up session in class or set as homework.
Step 1: Choose a historical figure
Encourage your students to select a figure from history that they have been studying in class and who they can find a portrait of on Art UK or elsewhere online. They could select Elizabeth I if they'd like to find out more about her. If short on time, here are some examples of historical figures on Art UK.
Nelson Mandela (1918–2013), at Nineteen 1986
Lex Braes (b.1956)
Thomas Martine Ronaldson (1881–1942)
Charles Darwin 1883
John Collier (1850–1934)
Mary Jane Seacole, née Grant 1869
Albert Charles Challen (1847–1881)
Mahatma Gandhi 1931
Elliott & Fry (active 1863–1962)
Queen Victoria (1819–1901) 1898
Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856–1916)
Step 2: Research
Ask your students to reflect on previous learning or carry out some research on the significant historical figure they have selected. What interested this historical figure and what was important to them?
Step 3: Collage
Starting with their chosen portrait, ask students to build up detailed collages by overlaying the original objects in the painting with new images and symbols (found online or drawn/painted by them) associated with their historical figure to create a more detailed and personalised representation of them.
This is intended to be a fun activity, which encourages students to explore the use of symbols in art in more depth.
When everyone has completed their enhanced portraits, encourage them to explain their choices to others.
- What were the most interesting facts the class discovered?
- Have any symbols or illustrations been used more than once by your students? If so, which are the most common and why?