Friday, 4 December 2015

Exploring Light in the Museum this Autumn

Using light in paintings as an inspiration for our own work
During this late Autumn period, here in the UK, our working world starts and ends in darkness. Whilst we have had some beautiful Autumn days with the sun warming rustling leaves and beautiful dew tipped spider webs spectacularly glistening, our extended darkness has been an opportunity to explore light in a variety of forms.

We attended the Diwali family celebrations at The National Gallery this November. A day filled with exploring light in the museum, using the paintings as sources of inspiration and celebration.

The boys particularly enjoyed the Magic Carpet story inspired by Rembrandt's oil painting entitled "Belshazzar's Feast", a painting based on the Old Testament Book of Daniel (5:1-6, 25-28). With his guitar and a few props, such as a crown and a jug, the story teller shared the tale of Belshazzar, King of Babylon, who blasphemously served wine in stolen scared vessels at a lavish banquet. The painting depicts the moment when a hand appears and scribes the phrase MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN,  understood by Daniel to mean "God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; your kingdom is given to the Medes and Persians", That night Belshazzar was slain.

After sharing the story our host encouraged the children to identify aspects of the painting that appeared in the story - the jug, the hand, the king himself and simultaneously the use of light and dark to illuminate and heighten this divine intervention.

Mid story telling flow.
Exploring the guitar after the story.
We also spent part of our day on a light trial around the gallery. Below is a list of paintings on display in The National Gallery where light and dark can be explored.

The boys took inspiration from the paintings above to create their own illumines picture.

A cut this shape from a folded piece of black paper. He chose "pinky" tissue paper to attach to the back.

All the children's work was displayed on an illuminated globe which did a tour of the gallery at the end of the day.

S interpreted the task in a different way, using the dark as the main focus of his picture and the light as the background. He was very specific with what he wanted to do and how it should be displayed.

All the pictures looked stunning amongst the twinkling fairy lights. The process of using tissue paper also connects to our lanterns which we use at various festivities this time of year.

The lanterns are made from all food jars which have a twisted wire handle. The boys were around 18 months each when they made these and enjoyed the experience of pasting torn pieces of tissue paper onto the side with glue. 

Little S making his lantern in 2012.

The glue glaze has protected the jars and saved them shattering from many drops onto hard surfaces! Inside we put 2 LED night lights so it is safe for the boys to carry around.

A glowing lantern on Bonfire Night 2012

This is A on his way to the November 5th Bonfire Night celebrations at Grandad's house this year.

How are you lighting up these dark Autumnal nights?

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