Term: 2 Year: 2008
David is a MACC teacher (Mobile Art Craft Teacher) based at Everton Primary School who teaches art in the class
rooms there once a fortnight.
Everton is a small school of twenty nine pupils in North East Victoria.
During Term 4, 2007 the class topic was “Australian History – Important People”.
As there was an impending Federal election the class decided to focus on Prime Ministers. Each student selected a
Prime Minister to focus upon.
Their choice could be based on prior knowledge of a PM e.g. John Howard (the current PM at that time) or even the
first Prime Minister Edmund Barton, or from research using the Internet and/or resources from the art van or the
school’s library. Some students chose their PM purely because they had an interesting face.
Of course everyone wanted to do John Howard but there was to be no doubling-up and we wanted a reasonable historic
spread of Prime Ministers. As it turned out, there was a good selection from Alfred Deakin (1903-04) through to John
Activity One – Portraits
Having chosen a Prime Minister, the students were shown or could find for themselves a portrait of him. Photographs
and painted portraits were studied as well as caricatures which were a very accessible and entertaining art form
for the students to study.
The artworks of Sun Herald cartoonist Mark Knight on John Howard and caricatures by John Spooner in particular showed
techniques to use in focusing on particular features.
The students experimented in drawing portraits with grey lead pencils in their art journals. Some made several sketches.
One sketch was chosen to be photocopied and enlarged to A3 size Cartridge Paper. This was then hand coloured with
inks and brushes. Students had to experiment with mixing white, red and orange to get the right skin tones after
a class demonstration and discussion. The final outlining was completed using old fashioned dip pens and Indian ink.
A short practice session was needed so students could learn how to use these pens and ink to get the best effect.
The students were very impressed with the results created by the added colours and the outlines.
Activity Two – part 1 – 3D Sculpture
The purpose of the 2D portrait was to use it as a reference for creating their sculpture and to think about the shape
as well as other details. Each student chose a plastic bottle that reflected the shape of their Prime Minister, e.g.
a rounder fatter bottle for a portly George Reid or a smaller one for William McMahon!
Before starting construction of the head shape, the bottles were half filled with sand to make them stable. Students
again referred to their portraits when scrunching newspaper for the PM’s head and then taped it into place
on the top of the bottle – e.g. making a round shape for George Reid or a long oval shape for Gough Whitlam.
The facial features were also made from folded or scrunched up paper and taped securely to the head. Again the students had
to study their portraits to make for example; William McMahon’s extended ears, Bob Hawkes’ wavy hair
or George Reid’s bushy moustache.
This shape needed to be very secure before they started to cover the bottle and head with layers of papier mache.
Once covered with sufficient layers of old computer paper strips, skin coloured paint was brushed over the head shape.
Session Three Two weeks later…..
Once the papier mache and base colours of the PM’s skin and suit were dry, students referred to their portraits
and other visual resources to paint the features on their 3D form. It was necessary to refer to newspaper pictures
of suits and ties to get the correct details of the PM’s attire.
Activity Two –
part 2- English Language/Visual Art
The teachers wanted the students to give their PM’s some context and show that the students had some knowledge
of their PM’s history. The plan was to make a rolled-up newspaper displaying a headline about the chosen PM.
In Language sessions with Janine the students had to research and format a newspaper headline about their PM.
So, we had “PM has Dodgy Heart” for WWII PM, John Curtin and “Outrage! Gough is Sacked” for Gough
Whitlam. Another interesting idea was “Loch Ness Monster found in PM’s office!” for George Reid.
Cryptically, it informs us, he was born in Scotland!
This is when the students put their I.C.T. skills to use. Some designed their own newspaper shapes on the computer
while others found pre-made ones in clip-art programs.
As a class we had to work out how to paint on the arms so the newspaper appeared to be under the arm.
Students had to research the PM’s dates of office and their respective political party to include on a label
for both pieces of artwork and then present the information using word processing skills.
By chance we were contacted by the Youth Development Officer for the Rural City of Wangaratta in late November with
a view to increasing Everton’s participation in the Australia Day celebrations, perhaps through the arts. As
a result the PM sculptures were proudly and prominently displayed in the Rural City offices and then on the front
of the main stage where all the speeches and ceremonies took place on Australia Day. The portraits were displayed
in the Bainz Gallery at the Wangaratta library throughout January. The responses from the viewing audiences at both
venues were very positive.
Criteria used in assessing the project:
Was the chosen PM actually recognisable?
Application of skills explored and materials used:
Level of skill used in the creation process appropriate to the student’s level?
Manipulation of art elements of shape tone and colour
Response of the audiences
Response of the students to their work individually and as a class project
Everton Primary School
Suitable for Levels 3 – 4