This learning resource offers activities inspired by art and resistance. It considers how art can be a useful tool for understanding injustices, thinking about and making the changes we want to see in society.
The three activities feature Artists of Colour who challenge the dominant cultural narratives of white Western society, focusing attention on contemporary Black experience and identity.
We invite learners to think about the artists’ processes and to make their own resistance art.
National Galleries of Scotland and Edinburgh Art Festival are committed to equality, diversity, access and inclusion. This series of resources will continue to evolve through the input of educators, artists, creatives, teachers and learners. We would love to share young people’s art related to this theme. If you’d like to share examples of your pupils’ art in an online gallery, please contact [email protected]
- Suitable for: secondary school pupils (aged 11+ years)
- Subjects: History, Modern Studies, Art and Design
- Timing: adapt activities to suit, eg. one lesson or a longer pupil-led project
Challenge one | Frame it
Scottish artist Maud Sulter made portraits that put Black women in the centre of the frame. She says, ‘black women’s experience and black women’s contribution to culture is so often erased and marginalised.’
Create a portrait that brings attention to something that you think is important. It might be a person, an object, a place, an issue or a story. Your artwork might include words, images, sounds or film.
- First research your subject matter – find out everything you can. Decide which parts of your research are important to include.
- Decide the best way to ‘frame’ or show your research in an artwork.
- You might want to visit a local gallery for inspiration, like the Young Fathers did.
Challenge two | Embellish the statue
Contemporary British artist Hew Locke embellished this statue to change the story that it tells.
The murder of George Floyd in 2020 brought renewed focus to the Black Lives Matter movement including protests against landmarks such as statues in our towns and cities and the selective histories they tell.
- Can you think of any statues that you encounter often? Can you name them?
- Why do we have statues - who is celebrated and who is not?
Select a statue of a historically significant person.
- How could you change this statue so it tells more of a story, like Hew Locke has?
- Is there a way to reveal more about the person? This could be something they’ve said, or done, something about their history and how that fits with the society we live in today.
Hew Locke was born in Edinburgh, UK, in 1959, from 1966 to 1980 he lived in Georgetown, Guyana, currently he is based in London. Through his work he explores the visual language of colonial and post-colonial power and the effects of these authorative symbols on culture and identity, and how these are altered through time. His artworks often use appropriation and embellishment to deconstruct the history and iconography of state power.
Challenge three | Imagine a new world
These prints by contemporary British artist Alberta Whittle (born 1980) show illustrations of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas and the unjust claiming of a so-called ‘New World.’
Imagine a new world, a new, just society.
- How would you like your future society to be?
- What aspects of contemporary society do you think need to change?
- What aspects would you keep?
- Think about education, work, play, home, environment, government etc
Choose one idea to focus on.
Illustrate your idea by drawing, writing, recording or filming.
Alberta Whittle is an artist, researcher, and curator. Her creative practice is motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods in battling anti-blackness. She choreographs interactive installations, using film, sculpture, and performance as site-specific artworks in public and private spaces.
Special thanks to:
Alberta Whittle, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Christina Finch from Wester Hailes Education Centre, Hew Locke, Katie Hunter from St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School, Laurie Anne Carr from Trinity Academy, Museums Galleries Scotland, Naomi Garriock, Natasha Ruwona, Rebecca Stewart from Wester Hailes Education Centre, Sarah Knox, SCORE Scotland, Sir Geoff Palmer.
Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the platform for the visual arts at the heart of Edinburgh’s August festivals, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums, production facilities and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art. Each year, the festival features leading international and UK artists alongside the best emerging talent, major survey exhibitions of historic figures, and a special programme of newly commissioned artworks that respond to public and historic sites in the city.
Edinburgh Art Festival Community Engagement runs a year-round programme of learning and engagement activities building long-term relationships with partner organisations, community groups and schools. Through creative learning resources, tailored tours, workshops and projects the engagement programme introduces and inspires people to get creative, removing barriers and broadening access to visual art and our festival programme.