Health & wellbeing

Scottish identity: Who decides who we are?

This is one of a series of resources exploring the theme Scottish identity: who decides who we are? This section uses Monarch of the Glen and other relevant artworks to focus on health & wellbeing, offering images, questions and activities for learners of all ages to explore.

Sir Edwin Landseer, The Monarch of the Glen, (about 1851)

We think Landseer was an incredibly persistent and resilient person. Despite personal set back he was dedicated to making art, especially painting animals.

Landseer started painting deer in the 1830s and explored similar themes for the next three decades.  He studied domestic and farm animals and more exotic creatures, and in 1815 first exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy of Arts. He was encouraged to study animal anatomy by one of his tutors. His drawings show his desire to fully understand the anatomy and movement of animals. 

Landseer became an accomplished, wealthy painter but in 1840 he suffered a severe nervous breakdown. There were probably a number causes, including the stress he experienced because of the pressure to finish paintings, the death of his mother, and disappointments in his private life. Landseer did gradually recover, but the experience impacted on his career.  He had a reputation for taking a long time over his paintings sometimes leaving them unfinished.



We wonder…

  • how much do your hobbies, interests, and set-backs determine who you are and how others see you?


What do your students wonder about health and well-being?

Ask your students to come up with questions, or try some of the questions below.


Do you have a good attention span?  How long can you spend at something before you get bored? What can you spend most time doing? Why is this?

Do you think you could paint the same thing for 30 years? If so, what would it be? 

What do you think of the statement ‘if you don’t succeed at first: try, try and try again?’

Goals and ambitions

How do artists contribute to making the world a better place?

How do you contribute to making your school community a better place?

What would you like to change about your school or community? How could you make this happen?


Do you think being a famous painter would be difficult? What are the good and bad things about fame?

What interests do you have?  Where did they come from?

How do personal circumstances shape who we are?

Who decides who we are?


Here are three ideas that explore health & wellbeing through art. We have purposely suggested activities that are not aimed at a particular level as we believe in teachers’ professional judgement; you can adapt activities to suit any group and any time frame.

Everything is going to be alright

Martin Creed, No.975 EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, 2008 Presented by the artist 2012 (fabrication costs courtesy the Iain Paul Fund) © Martin Creed
  • Ask pupils to create a mind-map of words they think are ‘encouraging’.  These could be words they would like to hear if they were struggling to achieve something.
  • In small groups ask them to create a banner using the words.  Ask them to consider how they could make it bright, bold and eye catching.
  • Now ask the groups to hang their banner in a place that they think someone else might see it who needs some encouragement, i.e. the playground, the library etc

Creativity skills being developed include generating and refining ideas, persistence and collaboration.

Possible links to the Curriculum for Excellence include visual art in Expressive Arts, and resilience in Health & wellbeing.

The animal in me: self-portrait

Julian Opie, Escaped Animals 2002 Commissioned and presented by BALTIC, Gateshead, to mark their opening 2002, © Julian Opie / DACS; courtesy Lisson Gallery’
  • Use Monarch of the Glen as a starting image.  Ask the class to list adjectives to describe the stag.
  • Now show them 2 other animals (e.g. sheep / snake).  Ask what these animals represent and what characteristics we assume they have, compared to a stag.
  • Ask each pupil to write down adjectives to describe themselves and their own key strengths.
  • Now each pupil must decide on a different animal or body part of an animal to represent each strength, for example, the wings of a bird could represent energy, the body of an ox represents strength.
  • Now ask them to create a new animal that contains different body parts to represent their whole self.
  • Give the new animal a name.  
  • Create an exhibition and labels saying why they chose the combination of body parts.

Creativity skills being developed include inventing, evaluating impact and success of solutions and using lateral thinking. 

Possible links to the Curriculum for Excellence include Health & wellbeing, presentation skills in Literacy, and Expressive Arts.

I am what I do

Milton Rogovin, Scottish Miners, 1982, © Center for Creative Photography
  • Landseer drew and painted animals over and over again. In small groups ask pupils to share any interests and hobbies they have.
  • Now ask pupils to map out where these interests come from.  Who introduced them to it? What is it about the activity they love?
  • Swap skills: what can they teach each other?
  • Ask pupils to work together to curate an exhibition that shares their interests. They should have as much control over the exhibition as possible.
  • Ask pupils what they learned from each other and how it felt trying something new that was perhaps difficult or needs practise or what they found a challenge.

Creativity skills being developed include able to lead and work well with others, demonstrate initiative, discipline, persistence and resilience.

Possible links to the Curriculum for Excellence include Health & wellbeing, presentation skills in Literacy and family history in Social Studies.

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