Thinking Silhouettes

By Eilis Hanson.

Eilis Hanson is a primary school teacher who loves to get art into the curriculum, wherever and whenever she can! She has a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Newcastle University and studied at Universität für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna during her third year there. More recently, she has studied watercolour painting in Verona. Eilis has taught children in Indonesia, Japan and Italy and now lives and works in Cambridge. She has exhibited sculptures, prints and installations in Newcastle, Vienna and Istanbul.

Thinking Silhouettes


In response to the National Gallery’s Take One Picture initiative, our school chose to spend a week focusing on Joseph Wright ‘of Derby’s dramatic painting An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768). After discussing and exploring the painting in assemblies, each class was set the challenge of responding through art and literacy. The Year Four children created these thinking silhouettes after using freeze frames and soliloquy in drama to explore the thoughts of the characters in the painting.

Working as a whole class, each child chose a character and while looking carefully at their silhouette in the painting, began to cut or rip the silhouette out of an A3 sheet of black paper.

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