Pathway: Transforming Materials into Sculpture

cardboard structure 1b


To help teachers navigate AccessArt resources, and to build an understanding of some of our key approaches to enabling creativity, AccessArt is creating a series of “pathways” around themes and topics which can be used in schools. See the pathways as steeping stones to help you create exciting creative learning journeys.

If you use our resources in schools please do tag @accessart (Facebook and Twitter) and @accessartorguk (Instagram) with any outcomes – we always love to see them! Any questions pls email

This pathway provides a framework for teachers to enable an exploration of charcoal. Pupils are given the opportunity to understand the kinds of marks they can make with charcoal, and also understand the importance of their own body in the role of making a drawing.

Pupils work in sketchbooks on on large sheets of paper and the final stage of the project is to pull their skills together to create dramatic drawings based upon observation and imagination

As with all AccessArt approaches, the emphasis is on a journey of building independent learning through lots of experimentation and creative risk taking, and balances sketchbook and exploratory work with high quality and varied final outcomes. 

The pathway can be condensed or expanded but on average will take 6-7 weeks. It can be adapted for all ages in KS 1 and 2. 

Before you Start: Teacher CPD

Journeyful Teaching & Learning

This pathway illustrates how important it is to take a “journeyful” approach to facilitating art. Read the Teaching for the Journey and not the Outcome resource here to understand more about why this approach is important. 

Design Through Making

Read this post about Thinking and Making and apply the Design Through Making approach to your projects.

Start Your Journey!


Be Inspired by El Anatsui

El Anatsui is an international sculptor living and working in Nigeria. He transforms the objects he find around him and makes large sculptures and installations out of  thousands of small, elemental pieces. Watch videos about El Anatsui here. 

Warm Up Exercise

Try the Roots and Shoots: A Sculptural Challenge warm up exercise to help pupils thinking about how we can reconstruct from the things around us. 

Choose Your Materials

Think about how you might deconstruct found objects to make new materials, and then combine other materials to make new structures. Read more

Step 3. Push the Materials

In this resource, Andrea Butler shares how she pushes materials in her quest to transform everyday objects into jewellery.

Making Metal Badges

Artist Maria Whetman shares how students made metal badges from tins. 

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