Art Competition for Schools and Families| Secondary 1-3

Theme: Climate Change

These resources aim to encourage children to create their own artworks, inspired by artworks in the National Galleries of Scotland Collection.

Here you will find three key artworks to look at and discuss, with some additional images included below. There are suggestions of things to think about, what to make and examples of materials that can be used.

Things to think about:

  • Which part of the painting shows the sun and which part is the sea? How can you tell? Why are there two circular sun-like shapes?
  • The artist has chosen two very different colours for the top and the bottom of the painting. Why do you think he has done this?
  • What do you think the red shape at the top of the painting signifies?
  • How has the artist created the lines that run across the painting?



Max Ernst was a surrealist artist. The Surrealists were interested in creating images from the unconscious mind. This painting has a clear title but its meaning is open to interpretation.

Things to think about:

  • What can you see in this sculpture?
  • Do you think it has a function? Do you think it would work?
  • Why do you think the artist has chosen yellow as the main colour?
  • What message do you think the artist might be trying to get across with this artwork?
  • Do you think it is effective as a work of art and/ or as a message about the environment?



Joseph Beuys wrote instructions to accompany this artwork which read, ‘Change battery every thousand hours’ even though the light bulb cannot be switched on. Joseph Beuys was interest in the environment and in using nature as an ecologically-sound fuel source.

Things to think about:

  • Where has this photograph been taken from?
  • Why do you think the artist chose this vantage point to document the landscape?
  • What natural phenomena are creating dark areas on the white of the snow?
  • Why do you think the artist chose this section of land to photograph?



Patricia Macdonald is an artist and a biological scientist. She is interested in environmental sustainability and on the impact of people on the landscape. Much of her recent work has involved aerial photography, in collaboration with her husband, Angus Macdonald, as pilot and operations manager. In this photograph, as well as documenting the land, she has also produced a beautiful, almost abstract, image.

Things to consider

Here are a few questions to help spark the imagination.

  • What do you know about climate change?
  • How has climate change started to affect different parts of the world?
  • Have you noticed any effects of climate change where you live?
  • What could happen if temperatures rose across the world?
  • What could happen if the sea level rose?
  • How could the landscape change in the next 50 years where you live? In other parts of the world?
  • What can people do to slow down climate change? Recycle, reuse, repair, think about their carbon footprint, conserve energy, conserve water, limit food waste, buy local, reduce meat consumption, avoid single use plastic
  • What are the best ways to communicate the urgency of action against climate change?



Create a picture relating to climate change. You could consider the effects or consequences of global warming and/or the ways in which it could be prevented.


Any materials (new or recycled), techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer aided design, collage, montage) to make your piece. 

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

We are thrilled this year to be working with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The Garden will help us to choose the ten winning artworks and will then select additional artworks in celebration of their 350th anniversary in 2020.  The work of the Garden helps to discover and protect the world’s plants and they will have special prizes for their winners.


Curriculum for Excellence

Entering this competition can contribute to your teaching of Curriculum for Excellence and interdisciplinary learning. Here are some examples of what the children will be able to do in working towards their entries:

Expressive Arts Art and Design

I can use and combine the visual elements and concepts to convey ideas, thoughts and feelings in expressive and design work. EXA 3-03

I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. EXA 0-07a

Literacy and English

When I engage with others, I can make a relevant contribution, encourage others to contribute and acknowledge that they have the right to hold a different opinion. LIT 3 02a

Social Studies

I can identify the possible consequences of an environmental issue and make informed suggestions about ways to manage the impact. SOC 3-08a

I can investigate the climate, physical features and living things of a natural environment different from my own and explain their interrelationship. SOC 3-10a

I can investigate the relationship between climate and weather to be able to understand the causes of weather patterns within a selected climate zone. SOC 3-12a

Health and Wellbeing

Through contributing my views, time and talents, I play a part in bringing about positive change in my school and wider community. HWB 0-13a / HWB 1-13a / HWB 2-13a / HWB 3-13a / HWB 4-13a

The National Galleries of Scotland Art Competition is proud to be supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Art Competition contact details

If you have any questions about the competition please get in touch.

[email protected]