Constructing a figure
We will be constructing a sculpted figure – a person, an animal or an imaginary creature – from a range of found materials.
You will need:
For building Boxes and plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes, fabric, artificial hair, netting, foil, coloured papers, sweet papers, plastics, beads, toilet roll holders and other cardboard cylinders, corks, lids, wool, natural objects such as pods, feathers, grasses, bits of bone, nails, screws, metal bits, magazines, small objects and toys.
For joining String , wool, thin wire, parcel tape, wood glue and clear glue.
Tools wire cutters, long-nosed pliers, craft knives, screwdrivers, hammer and scissors.
Sculptures can be constructed out of a number of things, but in this case we will focus on found objects. What are “found objects”? They are literally what their name implies. They can be anything you find which is no longer being used for its original purpose – objects that once had a previous “life”, such as packaging, bits and pieces of toys, tools or utensils.
To the Teacher
Materials: You and your learners should start collecting objects long in advance, so that you have lots of exciting materials to work with. You will need some space for storing materials. Let your learners see the materials as they are collected. Remember that seeing exciting found materials arriving each day is likely to inspire learners to find more and more.
Technical skills: Try out the tools yourself beforehand. Make sure you know how to cut wire with wire-cutters, understand in a practical way how to join two ends of wire in a neat firm twist, how long glue takes to set and whether parts need to be held in place by pegs in order to set. Learners must, however, also come up with their own solutions and discoveries.
Classroom organisation: Decide how best to organise your classroom so that the work can progress smoothly. During the art-making process, you will need a lot of space in your classroom for materials, set out in an orderly arrangement (ordered in whatever way you feel is appropriate – by material, colour or size), so that learners can find what they need. Have your learners help you with this. You will need the help, and they will learn important life skills from this process. Make rules about using tools and putting them back in their places. For example, specific learners can be responsible for collecting each category of tool.
Why “found-object assemblages”? We saw in this chapter that this is an established way in which many artists all over the world make artworks. But also, these activities are especially exciting in most art rooms because they encourage us to look at familiar things in a new light, and to think in surprising, creative and inventive ways about those ordinary things. It stimulates unexpected ideas. And it involves problem-solving in all its aspects. Finally, it is also a very inexpensive way for the art teacher to facilitate the production of wonderful sculptural objects.
How you could take this further
When your learners have completed their creatures, these figures could become characters in a performance or short play. Learners should work in small groups of between three and six people, and together devise plots for their characters to enact. Each learner manipulates and “speaks for” his or her own figure, like puppets. You might want to set a theme or context in which these stories develop – or leave it open to the groups to decide.
Each figure already has its own specific personality and character; the stories should develop out of the interaction of these personalities. Encourage learners to explore their characters’ own particular style of movement, and special voice.
Finally, when the plays are complete and they have practised, each group perform for the rest of the class.