June Exploring Artism: Birds!

This June, our Exploring Artism class had the chance to mix their creativity with nature through our special lesson dedicated to birds. After a warm welcome and working on a warm-up worksheet in the Docent Room, our group was taken upstairs to see Jacob Bogdani’s work, “A Macaw, Ducks, Parrots and Other Birds in a Landscape.” This work was not only a chance for the students to learn about 18th century art and the use of collage, but it is also full of colorful and lively birds and therefore fun for the students. As we examined the painting, we discussed the elements of collage we could see and how the artist used collage to create the work.

After spending some time examining the piece, the students were each student was given a puzzle piece that had a different part of the painting on it. They were asked to locate their piece on the painting, and then as a group students got the chance to complete the puzzle together. This collaborative exercise allowed students to reflect further on the artwork in front of them as well as work with their peers in a creative way.

After this cooperative activity, we headed down to the Docent Room to make our own 3D birds! Using a selection of wiki stix, all students spent time creating their own bird statues, letting their creativity fly (so to speak). Students were free to design birds in any way their imagination would take them, and we got to see some beautiful results that were then shared with the entire group so that everyone could admire the work.






April Exploring Artism: Paston Treasure Textiles

This April, our Exploring Artism class had the special opportunity to engage with the museum’s Paston Treasure exhibition. After our introduction in the Docent Room, our group went upstairs to have a look at the 17th-century painting after which the exhibition is named.

Our group had plenty to say about the nearly 8 x 5.5′ painting:

“They’re wearing such old costumes!”

“Why is the room so messy?”

“It looks like the owner really liked fancy things!”

These “fancy things” are the highlight of the Paston Treasure exhibition, which brings together as more objects from the picture than ever before. After sitting in front of the painting for twenty minutes, we had the opportunity to take a look at a few of the objects on display. Ultimately, we arrived at the “bearing cloth,” a 17th-century silk fabric used for bestowing a child to a king. We talked about the process of making the cloth on a loom, and the year of work required by several craftspeople in order to make it.

We returned to the Docent Room to try our hands at making our own bearing cloths. Using shiny cloths, pipe cleaners, yarn, glitter glue, and plenty of beads, our group came up with several examples that easily rivaled the work we saw in the gallery. At the end of the morning we did a quick round of show and tell, then took our bearing cloths home to share with our families.

November Exploring Artism: Moore’s Maquettes

This November Exploring Artism event was inspired by Henry Moore, a British sculptor of the twentieth century. Moore began his sculptures by making maquettes, small preliminary models that act as a “sketch” before the real sculpting gets underway. At the Center for British Art, we’re fortunate to have almost a dozen examples of Henry Moore’s maquettes!

We started our activity with a looking exercise. How are the maquettes different? Do you think it took a long time or short time to make the maquettes? How did Moore make his maquettes?


Our activity took place on the third floor in our modern art gallery. We started by rolling chunks of air-dry clay in to balls. Next, we pressed and formed into our own maquettes.


We concluded with a sharing activity, where everybody had the chance to talk about their maquettes and how they might turn them into full-sized sculptures. We have artists in the making!

October Exploring Artism: Pottery

We had a great time at the October Exploring Artism event learning about and working with pottery in the gallery! Linda, our Senior Curator of Education, led us through a looking activity with three of Clare Twomey’s vases on display in the Center for British Art.

After talking about what we saw, we had the opportunity to make our own clay sculptures using Model Magic!

We finished the morning by using our pottery skills to make Halloween masks in the Docent room. It was a spooky ending

April Exploring Artism: Castles

The theme of our April Exploring Artism was castles! After learning about castles in Great Britain, participants explored the YCBA’s current exhibition, Art in Focus: The British Castle – A Symbol in Stone in the museum’s Long Gallery:

Next, participants returned to the Docent Room and created their own castles!

March Exploring Artism

During our March 18th Exploring Artism at the YCBA, we looked at work by Mrs. Delaney.  After looking at her botanical collages and thinking about the different shapes and sizes she used, we moved to the Docent Room and created our own paper mosaics: