Pathway: The Art Of Display

Pathway for Years 3 & 4

Sculpture, Creative Thinking Sketchbooks

Key Concepts:

  • That artists think carefully not just about what they make, but also how they present what they make. 

  • That when we view sculpture (or other art), the context (way it is presented) affects how we react to it. 

  • That how something will be seen can help us shape what is made.

  • That we can give thought to how we display the art we make, to help us understand how people will view our work. 

In this pathway children begin to think about two very important aspects of making art: context and presentation.

When we make art that others will see, it’s important that we understand how we present the work will influence the way people see the work. This pathway presents an opportunity for pupils to discover and question the role of the “plinth” in sculpture. 

Children explore how other artists use the idea of “plinth” to make work. There are then three choices of project. The 1st explores how we can present found objects to re-see them as sculpture, making a mini gallery. 

In the 2nd project children make sculptures of themselves, putting a version of themselves on a plinth, and in the 3rd children plan an artwork or performance for a fictional plinth in their school. 

Clay, Paper, Drawing Materials, Various Modelling & Construction Materials

Artists: Anthony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare, Thomas J Price

If you use this resource in your setting, please tag us on social media: #InspiredBy @accessart (facebook, twitter) (instagram) and share the url. Thank you!

Photo of Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London by Andy Hay
Quick clay figurative sketch
Parkour person
ages 5-8
ages 9-11

A PDF of this pathway can be found here.

Teaching Notes

Curriculum Links

English: Make ‘plinth people’ of characters from your chosen book. Explore how they can be displayed to interact with one another and tell the story. Use “plinth” to give voice/performance to narratives in English.

History: Create plinth people inspired by figures from your chosen civilisation topic e.g. the Ancient Greek gods and goddesses or Roman Emperors. Use “plinth” to give voice/performance to characters in history.

PSHE: Supports Collaboration, Peer Discussion.

I Can…

  • I have seen how some artists choose to display their work on “plinths” and I have understood how the way a work is displayed can affect the way the audience sees the work. 

  • I can use my sketchbook to collect ideas about how other artists consider how their work is displayed. 

  • I can use clay to make quick three dimensional sketches  of figures sitting on “plinths”. I can use the clay to capture  character/emotion of the body.

The following I Can statements are dependent upon project chosen.

Pocket Gallery:

  • I can find objects around me and think about how I can re-see them when I display them as art objects.

  • I can manipulate materials to make an environment for the art objects.

  • I can think about how the audience might react and capture this in my artwork.

The Fourth Plinth Challenge:

  • I can work as a small team and plan an art project around how we would use a plinth in our school, taking ideas of other people on board and contributing my own.

  • I can think creatively about art/object/performance/audience.

Plinth People

  • I can use my sketchbook to think about my interests/personality traits which I am proud of.

  • I can imagine how I could create a version of myself that I would like to see on a plinth.

  • I can make a sculpture/ plinth from construction materials which shows a version of myself, using things like body position, clothes, props and fine details to give the sculpture character. 

All Projects:

  • I can share my work with others, and talk about my response to the project, what worked well and what I would like to try again. I can listen to the response to my work from my classmates and take on board their feedback.

  • I can appreciate the work of my classmates, understanding where there are similarities and where there are differences. I can share my response to their work.

  • I can take photographs of my artwork, thinking about focus, lighting and composition. 


This pathway takes 6 weeks, with an hour per week. Shorten or lengthen the suggested pathway according to time and experience. Follow the stages in green for a shorter pathway or less complex journey.


Clay, thick cardboard (cut up boxes), small wooden blocks (or lego).

Option 1: Pocket Gallery – Camera, printed photographs, white card, foamboard (or cardboard boxes turned on their side), a collection of small objects, torches, acetate filters or sweet wrappers, rubber bands, PVA glue, scissors.

Option 3: Plinth People – (for the pre made plinths), corrugated card, wire, fine casting plaster,

(for the figures) Wire, construction materials, fabric, glue.


Pathway: The Art of Display

  • Aims of the Pathway

    This pathway aims to encourage pupils to think about how the way we present our art (the context) can change the meaning of the work we make, or change the way others see it. 

    Pupils explore “plinths” as a device, and use the exploration to inspire their own sculpture. 

  • Weeks 1: Introduce

    What is a Plinth?

    Silver-gilt mouthpiece late 6th–5th century B.C

    Use the free to access “Talking Points: What is a Plinth?” resource to introduce children to the concept behind “plinth” and to explore some of the artists who have contributed to the Fourth Plinth Project in London. 

    Invite children to make visual notes in their sketchbooks. Use the “Making Visual Notes” resource to help this process. 

  • Week 2: Introduce an Artist

    Talking Points: Thomas J Price

    Ordinary Men: Interview with Thomas J Price

    Explore the work of a sculptor who challenges ideas about who should be commemorated as sculptures in the free to access “Talking Points” Thomas J Price” resource. 

    You might like to use the “Making Visual Notes” resource to see how to encourage pupils to use their sketchbooks whilst looking at an artist or art work. 

  • Warm-Up

    Clay Figurative Sketches

    Seated figure

    Provide children with the opportunity to explore clay as a “short term” construction and modelling material through “Clay Figurative Sketches“.

    This activity will enable children to begin thinking about the distinctions between ‘audience’ and ‘art’.

  • Week 3, 4 & 5: Find Your Focus

    Explore & Make

    Choose one of the following projects to help focus and deepen children’s understanding of how context and presentation help define the meaning of artwork. 

  • Option 1: Become a Curator

    Pocket Gallery

    Pocket Gallery

    In the “Making a Pocket Gallery” resource,  children are invited to curate, photograph and build.

    Inspire children to be artists and curators. Encourage conversation about “intention”, “curating” and encourage reflection skills by making a “Pocket Gallery“.

  • Or...

  • Option 2: Plan an Art Event

    The Fourth Plinth Challenge

    The Fourth Plinth

    Invite children to work in small teams to respond to the Fourth Plinth Challenge found at the bottom of our free to access “Talking Points: What is a Plinth?

    Use sketchbooks to generate ideas, encouraging children to think as creatively as they can about how they might create and use a “plinth” in your school. 

  • Or...

  • Option 3: Build Sculptures

    Plinth People

    Finished "Runner"

    Enable children to make dynamic figures which stand on a plinth. Invite them to build up from a single wire to form “Plinth People“, thinking carefully about the position of their figures.

    Encourage children to make notes in their sketchbooks about their decision making. Include some swatches of fabrics and makes notes on why certain fabrics were/weren’t selected.

  • Option 4:

    Billboard Challenge

    Invite children to imagine they were given a billboard – what would they put on it? 

    Coming Soon

  • Week 6: Celebrate

    Share, Reflect, Discuss

    Pocket Gallery

    Time to see the work that has been made, talk about intention and outcome.

    Invite children to display the work in a clear space, and walk around the work as they are in a gallery. Give the work the respect it deserves. Remind the children of their hard work.

    If you have class cameras or tablets, invite the children to document their work, working in pairs or teams. Explore how children can take high quality photographs of 3d artwork with this resource.


    Use the resource here to help you run a class “crit” to finish the project. 

See This Pathway Used In Schools

Year 4 Whitchurch Primary School
Year 4 Whitchurch Primary School
Year 4 Whitchurch Primary School
Year 4 Whitchurch Primary School
Y4 Whitchurch Primary school
Y4 Whitchurch Primary school
Y4 Whitchurch Primary school
Y4 Whitchurch Primary school
Wadebridge Primary School
Wadebridge Primary School
Wadebridge Primary School
Wadebridge Primary School
Year 4, St Michaels Community Academy
Ruth at Carden Primary School
Ruth at Carden Primary School
Ruth at Carden Primary School
Year 4, St Mary's Hampton CE Primary
Year 4, St Mary's Hampton CE Primary
Year 4, St Mary's Hampton CE Primary
Year 4, St Mary's Hampton CE Primary

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