In this post, Anna Campbell shares how she and her colleague Rosie Komodromos from Linton Heights Junior School in Cambridgeshire inspired teachers from across their school to lead art projects for Inspire: A Celebration of Children’s Art in Response to Jacopo del Sellaio’s Cupid and Psyche during a Creative Arts Week.
Anna shares how the whole school engaged with making projects which were integrated across subjects in response to the Renaissance painting of Cupid and Psyche by Jacopo Del Sellaio at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and how she used the project to progress pupils’ making skills throughout the year groups.
After attending the Inspire 2020 CPD (Continued Professional Development) event ran by AccessArt and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge my colleague and I came away buzzing, inspired and full of ideas!
We gave our own CPD training to our teachers and they were amazing. We began with AccessArt’s Prompt Cards; I made a set for each class and then suggested the teachers used these daily throughout Creative Arts Week and at any other opportunity! The teachers really enjoyed this!
Next, we told The Story of Cupid and Psyche. The information we had been given on the CPD was invaluable for us to tell this story to the teachers. As all work had to be cross-curricular and show progression throughout the school, we laid out mind maps around the room, each with a school subject on it to explore how the painting could be used to enrich teaching across the curriculum. After discussion, the teachers walked around and wrote down their ideas for each subject and how we can incorporate the painting with each one. The ideas were flowing now! The subject leads took the ideas and each decided what would work well with our students.
The previous week, we had put up a high-resolution print of the painting of Cupid and Psyche throughout the school (but had not mentioned it to the students).
On the first day of our Creative Arts Week, our Art lead, Rosie, began with an assembly with the whole school. Students acted out the story of the painting as she told it.
That was the beginning of the most amazing week!
As Design and Technology lead, and as the painting would have originally been painted for a wedding chest, I was interested in developing the theme of ‘containers’. I must admit, at first, I thought ‘what on earth can I do with this!?’ as I had to show progression through each year, and I wanted the children to really love each project. I was lucky to be able to work with the whole school. With each year group, we talked about what a wedding chest was, discussed the word ‘Cassone’, and created mind maps. The children had to think about any container, chest, or box they could and they had some amazing suggestions!
Year 3 Story Box
In Year 3, they had been reading a book which they all loved, so we decided to make story boxes. They had to cut out a ‘net’ shape from coloured card, build their box and then draw a comic style story of their own or choose to continue the painting and what happens next for Cupid and Psyche.
Year 4 Harry Potter Box
In Year 4, they had been doing Harry Potter and a lot of the children found the painting had a magical feel to it, with Psyche going to see the Oracle and Zephyr, the west wind magically blowing Psyche from the top of the mountain. So their project was spell boxes; they used cardboard and made layers to produce their box, they then added a top and latch to keep their spells safe and decorated it in pen and pencil to make it mysterious!
Year 5 Lightboxes
In Year 5 the children had been researching the Aztecs. Pupils made a connection between Psyche’s father, Apollo, the God of the sun, and light, and the Aztecs’ ‘Pyramid of the Sun and chose to make lightboxes. Using foam board and craft knives, the children built the box and then used PVA glue and paper to secure it. They used pins and made a design on the sides of their box so when the light shone through, their designs came to life! The children loved working with this material and when we put in the light (battery operated tea lights) they looked wonderful!
Year 6 Memory Boxes
In Year 6, I had the whole day with them! So to continue with the container project, the children made a memory box, linking their last year in Primary School to what Psyche may have put in her memory box throughout her life journey.
The children worked with clay and used tools and built their memory box up. They then made a separate lid and made an intricate design using the pictures of boxes and the wedding chest on the board. After that, we looked closely at the background of the picture and we could see water around the banks, mounds in the far distance, and mountains.
Inspire Projects Across the Curriculum at Linton Heights
In Year 6 they were studying coasts and rivers and so we made a 3D model of a river, starting with the source and leading down through mountains to the mouth into the sea. The children used newspaper, modroc, wood, glue guns, paint and anything else we thought would work. It was amazing to see all the children working together to make this fantastic model!
Science, History, Geography were all part of our week and we could’ve have kept going!
The school was buzzing with creativity! Without even knowing it, the children had also been incorporating Maths by breaking the picture up and using coordinates as well as finding different angles within the painting.
In English, there were diary entries, writing the next part of the story, and letter writing. The children’s imagination was simply incredible.
The children produced so many pieces of art throughout the whole school. And it wasn’t only in the classroom that the children were inspired, they were continuing to chat and act out the story in their playtime too and telling parents and siblings all about it!
At the end of the week, we had another whole school assembly and the children picked their favourite project and presented this to the school. There were so many different parts the children enjoyed and hearing them explain what they had done with such pride was brilliant! An absolutely wonderful project which we were very lucky and truly inspired to be part of.
Inspire – December 2019 to March 2020, was an exhibition of art made by primary school children and celebrated creativity in Cambridgeshire schools. It championed the on-going importance of cultural learning and the visual arts for all children and young people.
Based on the National Gallery’s Take One Picture, The Fitzwilliam Museum and AccessArt teamed together to offer free Inspire 2020 CPD (Continued Professional Development for Teachers), focusing on one painting, Cupid and Psyche by Jacopo del Sellaio, as a source of ideas and inspiration.
Del Sellaio’s Cupid and Psyche was on display next to the children’s work in the Octagon Gallery.
With very special thanks to Kate Noble, Miranda Stearn, Sarah Villis, and Holly Morrison for making this project happen and Alison Ayres.