This unit of work is based around the idea of designing a piece of sculpture for a specific public place. We start by researching what types of sculptures exist in public places in different countries and exploring what purposes they have. Students then select a specific place to design for, sketch ideas for sculptures that would be appropriate, and build a maquette of their ideas. Students are expected to reflect on their working processes throughout and complete a structured written assignment.

Aim of Unit

Through this unit of work I want students to understand how cultural values affect perceptions of Art, to have an awareness of what has to be taken into account when designing for specific areas and to understand that art designed for an audience is different from art created just for the artist.

Thinking Aim

This is a successful unit that I have taught for several years, but I noticed that the weaker students often struggle to understand the underlying concepts and their designs, and understanding, are often superficial. I wanted to see if incorporating the ENV model to improve analytical skills would yield better results.


I decided to start the unit with a sorting task. I selected images of public sculptures from around the world and gave them to the students to sort. Several of the images belonged to the same categories, war memorials, celebrating sporting achievements, but represented different cultures. I wanted students to be able to identify which sculptures had the same theme, and how the elements of art were used for specific types of expression.

The students were allowed to randomly sort first. Then to eliminate one image in turn, and finally to find as many different ways to sort as possible. With the list of different potential sorts we divided it into parameters and values. Some students had sorted based on values, such as has triangles, and others had sorted by parameter, shape. By discussing from their lists what were the parameters and what were the values allowed them to understand these two terms better.

The next stage was to produce an ENV model that could be used to describe a sculpture, the values selected were setting, material, colour, shape, people and movement. Each group was given two (relatively similar images ) and asked to use their model to describe them. In the majority of cases it was not possible to identify which image had been described, so the groups were told to go and develop their models into descriptive algorithms. The values included in the algorithm were much wider - area, material, shape, colour, setting, size, religious or cultural purpose, life, movement, structure, geometric shape, common everyday objects, and message.

When tested these algorithms gave much better results than the first models and the majority of students could identify a sculpture from the description created from the algorithm.


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