Learn about the Grim Realities of the USSR

Take a trip to London’s Tate Modern before January 28th 2018 and you’ll be able to enjoy the ironic art of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov as well as finding out some history facts about the Russia and the USSR. The Guardian describes the art as tragicomic and for a 9 year old there needed to be a lot of explaining but for a teenager who’s learnt a little about the USSR from history lessons it will all make pretty decent sense.

We really liked the man who flew into space from his apartment with all its propaganda posters on the walls. That feeling of utter desperation and the desire to escape had forced the apartment’s occupant to create a contraption so he’d be able to catapult himself through the ceiling.


Room Ten of the exhibition focuses on the Kabakov’s interest in angels. There was a little wooden model..

wooden model

As well as the written explanation of How to Meet an Angel…


You left knowing that they’ve also tried it on a larger scale…

real angel

People believe in angels as a paranormal possibility, as well as in Christianity and Islam. Looking at the Kabakov’s artwork it just made you realise that people need the idea of angels coming to their aid and assistance in moment’s of individual unique need.

Tate Modern knows how to show installation art, with room and room housing thought provoking art. In a few days the exhibition Red Star Over Russia will also start, making Tate Modern the place to visit for students wanting an insight into Russia and the Soviet Union from 1905.





Obituary for David Shepherd

Told by Slade School of Art in London that he had no artistic talent didn’t stop David Shepherd from being able to raise more than £8m for wildlife conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of his painting to charities such as the World Wildlife Fund. Later in his life, in 1984, he set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which campaigned to protect endangered species, and combat poaching and its trade.

a very wise old elephant

His paintings, whether they be of large animals or huge locomotives, showed the subject facing down the audience, bold and large. In 1970 the BBC made a documentary about him called The Man who Loved Giants.

In 2011 he launched a social media campaign to save the tiger in the wild, TigerTime.

“Man is the most stupid, arrogant and dangerous animal on Earth,” he said. “Every hour we destroy a species to extinction, and unless we start doing something about that very quickly, we are going to self-destruct.”

Soul of a Nation


Soul of a Nation a new art exhibition at Tate Modern art gallery in London examines what it meant to be black and an artist during the civil rights movement, from 1963 – when the idea of black power was emerging in the USA – through to 1983. As you arrive in the first room you are met with the audio of Martin Luther King‘s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is the first time a lot of the art has been in displayed in the UK. For anybody interested in the history of the civil rights movement or how we are striving for racial harmony, then this is an art exhibition not to be missed, Channel 4 agree.


Banksy Bethlehem Hotel

The Walled Off Hotel by Banksy in Bethlehem is certainly artwork with a political message. Its owner says it has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, while its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day. Why? Well it is placed right next to the 8 metre high concrete wall which Israel has built to defend itself from terrorism and refugees. Sound familiar?

People stand outside the Walled Off hotel, which was opened by street artist Banksy, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

The hotel opens to guests on 20 March, with bookings via the website. The media have swooped in to report on the hotel, with Channel 4 going for a tour around the rooms

. The team hope Israelis, who rarely see the barrier wall up close or visit Palestinian towns, will be among the guests, even though visiting means breaking the law. Israelis are banned from visiting Bethlehem and its holy sites, and even though the hotel is situated in an Israeli controlled spot, it is surrounded by Palestinian controlled territory.

“I would like to invite everyone to come here, invite Israeli civilians to come visit us here,” said manager Wisam Salsaa. “We want them to learn more about us, because when they know us it will break down the stereotypes and things will change.”


In Year 9 we have done a unit on war and conflict, questioning whether religion is dangerous, as well as a current unit on Pilgrimage which looks into the importance of Jerusalem for Christianity, Islam and Judaism. This has lead us to briefly study the Arab Israeli conflict and how Palestine and Israel interact. Newsround give a brief and simple background to the conflict, whereas there is also a BBC History page which catalogues the events from 1250 BC to the modern day. If you’d rather watch a video then VOX have a 10 minute quick run through of how the conflict arose, and in a similar fashion CrashCourse History have 13 minute video explaining the conflict.

If all this has peaked your interest in Banksy then:

Exhibitions in the UK in 2017 to help you learn

Our school is perfectly poised on the outskirts of Greater London to take advantage of some superb exhibitions which are lined up for 2017. It is often the case that you can go to an art exhibition and whilst enjoying the beauty of art you can pick up numerous facts about History, Geography, Sociology and Religious Studies.

  • At the Bodleian Library in Oxford the Volcanoes exhibition sounds fantastic. It starts on 10th February and runs through to March.
  • Also from mid-February is the Royal Academy in London’s Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932.  From the art gallery’s website it says: This far-ranging exhibition will – for the first time – survey the entire artistic landscape of post-Revolutionary Russia, encompassing Kandinsky’s boldly innovative compositions, the dynamic abstractions of Malevich and the Suprematists, and the emergence of Socialist Realism, which would come to define Communist art as the only style accepted by the regime. We will also include photography, sculpture, filmmaking by pioneers such as Eisenstein, and evocative propaganda posters from what was a golden era for graphic design. The human experience will be brought to life with a full-scale recreation of an apartment designed for communal living, and with everyday objects ranging from ration coupons and textiles to brilliantly original Soviet porcelain. That is History on a plate for you!
  • Turning its attention to the other Cold War power is the British Museum’s American Dream. The exhibition looks at American art in prints but also opens our eyes to American history from JFK to Trump.
  • In 1967 homosexuality was decriminalised in England (i.e. it stopped being against the law to have gay relationships, at first over the age of 21, but over the years it’s been brought in line with heterosexual sexual relationships at 16). So this year at Tate Britain there is an exhibition called Queer British Art 1861-1967 which follows changing definitions and attitudes to sexuality and gender, stories of repression and of celebration. The exhibition starts in April during the school’s Easter holidays.

Now these are all special exhibitions where you often have to pay to visit. However for a cheaper day out you can visit London’s art galleries and museums mostly for no cost, and visit their permanent exhibitions.

  • The National Art Gallery which is on Leicester Square has lots of paintings about Bible stories in the Sainsbury’s wing Level 2.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington (close to the Natural History Museum) has a permanent exhibition about the Islamic Middle East in Room 42, and you can learn a lot about Christianity from the Medieval and  Renaissance exhibitions. Not to be missed at the V&A for Religious Studies learning are the Raphael Cartoons in the cavernous Room 48a as well as the Cast Courts in Rooms 46a and 46b. A top tip for the V&A is to keep asking the staff the directions to specific rooms as it is a warren of art and exhibits.

Year 9 students will recognise this Raphael cartoon:2006ah9362_raphael_cartoon_draught_fishes

Syria’s Banksy

A Syrian rebel fighter has been likened to Banksy for his politically motivated street art around Syria. The artist Abu Malik al-Shami has created some striking wall murals which send a strong political message.

This one made me remember talking about agape with Year 10 students…


What’s your interpretation?

‘Man Engine’ the Miner Puppet

man puppet

Above is the Man Engine setting off from Tavistock in Devon.

When the second series of Poldark starts on BBC 1 this September you will once again catch a glimpse of the old Cornish mines dotted along the coastline.


Over the summer there is a ‘Man Engine’ clambering his way across from Tavistock in Devon to the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site in Cornwall to celebrate it’s 10th birthday as a UNESCO heritage site.

cornwall mines

youtube Watch a short video clip about Engine Man.

You can learn huge amounts from how Cornwall went from being a mining powerhouse, to how the industry died and how the region has developed since then. Moreover there is lots to learn about geology, rocks, minerals, infrastructure development and technological advances to mining. A great place to visit for anybody interested in Humanities.