Emotional Fish

Term: 3 Year: 2013

Where does inspiration come from when planning a visual art programme?

Susan Clarke at Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School in Canterbury often blends nonfiction and fiction books as her starting point. In this unit of work the girls at each grade level responded with much enthusiasm.

This unit came about with the marriage of the nonfiction ‘Swainston’s Fishes of Australia` with the whimsical fiction book ‘Happy ` by the Dutch author illustrator,  Mies Van Hout.

These two books provided the opportunity for the integration of science and art by combining an appreciation of the diversity and beauty of fish with the artistic licence taken to distort and label them with an emotion.

I photographed and printed a cross section of fish species from Swainston’s book, for children from Pre Prep through to Year Six to use as a reference for their fish. They used a variety of materials such as paint, Prockey markers, inks, chalk etc. One criteria was that I had to be able to identify their species to ensure that they captured the specific characteristics of their particular fish. They were then able to exaggerate the features in order to communicate their chosen emotion.

All age groups enjoyed the playfulness of the concept, at the same time gaining an insight into the diversity of fish species and the fascinating process of classification. It also provided a great example of combining a career in the Arts and a passion for Marine Life.

Susan Clarke
Visual Art Teacher
Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar School
Suitable for levels 1-4