G9 Conflict Interdisciplinary Unit – Bridging English and Art

Sue Dance (Art Teacher) and Ross McGowan (English teacher) created an interdisciplinary unit called “Conflict”. The aim was to allow the students to gain an understanding how Art and Poetry is a common expression of personal feeling and experience about Conflict in Society.

The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme recognises the need for more integration between subjects in order to enrich learning. This technique can ensure that what the students’ learning can be better applied to real life and that their knowledge and thinking can be flexible across different topics. Interdisciplinary units aim to equip students with a variety of skills they can apply to the complicated real-world problems they may encounter within a globalised context. This mix can also give students more ideas of the topics they may want to explore in their Personal Projects or other further studies.

G9X art students learned to make handmade paper after having looked at an artist, May Babcock, who took part in a collaborative group paper installation. Students used shredded paper from the recycle bin and blended it to make a paper pulp. They were able to colour the mixture with paintings and even add collage pieces to be part of the pulp.

Using silk screens, they then couched the paper in trays and left them to dry on racks. The fibres of the recycled paper were able to re-join and form flat stretched pieces. Students were able to use their creativity by embedding parts of the poem or drawings that they had done in order to express their response to the poem and the art-work that they had studied in class.

Students studied Artists who had interpreted their own feelings about conflict within their own society eg Henry Moore’s drawings during the bombing raids in London, Paul Nash’s watercolour paintings during 1st World War, Picasso’s Guernica and Goya’s interpretation of the even in Spain “3rd May”. Students analysed the art-works in great depth, investigating the use of colour, shape and distortion in order to communicate their ideas to the viewer.  Together with their knowledge of their chosen poem and the artwork, it enabled them to creatively express their own ideas by combining the written word, visual images together with the use of hand-made paper.

For English class, the students studied poems from a variety of historical conflicts around the world such as World War II, the Iraq War, the Boer Wars, and the Troubles in Ireland. Their assessment was an in-depth analysis of their chosen poem, examining the poet’s use of word choice, form, imagery, and sentence structure.

They also created a ‘Poetry Recitation Video’ based on their interpretation of the poem. This could be in the form of a montage of images, a dramatisation, an animation or any other format of the student’s choosing. These videos are viewed through the use of digital App “HP Reveal”. This exciting addition to the work allows the viewer to interact with the whole piece by holding their device on one of the hand-made paper pieces and viewing a video that pops up allowing the viewer to learn more about the student’s response and inspiration to the poem.

Jonah Demonstrates how the app works.

Manuel’s Poetry Recitation Video titled the War Photographer.

As part of the group installation, each student created their own individual art-work, which they have collaboratively joined together as one piece. This unit really showcased Grade 9’s creativity and the end results were wonderful. The next G9Y will be participating in their own pieces too and this wall-hanging will grow after they have added theirs too.

HalcyonG9 Conflict Interdisciplinary Unit – Bridging English and Art