Exploring the World Around You

The senior examining and assessment teams have been looking through examples of work submitted in the recent visual arts examination sessions (May and November 2017 and 2018) in order to find helpful samples for teachers. It has become clear that occasionally art teachers award marks for the exhibition component that do not really reflect the quality of the work submitted. When this happens, the marks are usually too generous, although in a few cases they are too harsh. Either way it’s not ...

A Theme? A Motif? Which Is It?!

One of the cranky little issues that often (almost always) arises when you are trying to write about the leading ideas or stylistic choices in a piece of literature—as you often must in your courses that involve this kind of art—is when to use the term 'theme' and when to use 'motif.'  And it's no wonder. However, if you decide to settle this in your own head once and for all, and search out definitions either digitally or in print, ...

Tarkovsky’s Solaris and the Frailty of Perceptual Certainty

My interest in this was piqued while watching Adam Curtis's excellent documentary Bitter lake (available to watch here or here). He used the main narrative motif of Tarkovski's film as a metaphor to explain the impact of the Afghanistan campaign on Soviet Russia in the 1980's. Curtis's thesis was that like the living planet Solaris, the Afghanistan campaign led many Russians to question the certainties of their perceptions of the world as they had understood it for 70 years. What had ...

ARTISTS USING ART: a three week workshop (February 2012)

I have been fascinated by the way that art inspires, influences or informs other art for many years. There are of course many examples of this throughout history, and it goes on today, under a variety of names – re-contextualization, reinterpretation, pastiche, transcription, homage, appropriation, parody etc. It’s an assignment I occasionally set my students, because it involves things that I think will benefit them – for example, I ask them to to investigate art (usually from different times and cultures), find ...

The Theme: why is it not a requirement?

It's one thing that almost all visual arts teachers 'know' about the IBDP visual arts course: students follow a theme. Its generally assumed that the theme is a thread that runs through the work that students create once the teacher has stepped back from giving 'teacher-inspired' assignments, it gives coherence and focus to the final exhibition, etc But the theme is not a course requirement, and as far as I can remember, it has never been a requirement. "Well why not?" you ...

“MUST MY EXHIBITION HAVE A THEME?”

This is a common question, often asked about halfway through the first year, but if you have students coming back to start their final year the issue of the theme may well be on their minds. The theme is certainly not a visual arts requirement, although there are references to it at various places in the visual arts subject guide. For example, the guide refers to the theme when making connections (“students might initially begin their investigation by working through an idea, ...