We may think that a knowledge focus within an art curriculum refers to fact learning and the history or theory of art rather than technical or skills based knowledge, practical exploration and experimentation.
A curriculum based on this would place less emphasis on creating art and more on learning about art – on acquiring knowledge without experience.
A good art curriculum should encompass opportunities for learning about artworks through history and up to present day, as well as equip children with the confidence and ability to discuss artwork. Children should learn about the theories of art, such as colour theory and the formal elements but not at the expense of making their own art, self expression and creativity.
In fact these ’knowledge based’ elements should run alongside the more practical and skills based learning – they complement each other.
Competence and confidence in creating art derives from lived and experienced knowledge of form, materials, technique, context etc. Embodied knowledge.
Emily promotes the use of a diverse collection of carefully selected paintings and art work in the Primary art curriculum. She is passionate that children should be exposed to a diverse selection of art, made by artists from different ethnic backgrounds, genders and ages. These key artworks provide ample opportunities for rich discussion and inspiration for practical work.
Children should be encouraged to ‘read’ the stories that paintings tell, they should learn how to be ‘painting detectives’ and use the ‘clues’ present in the details of many great artworks. In this way a strong art curriculum can also support visual literacy.
The practical outcomes that children produce are inspired by the artists, movements and genres they look at in the knowledge part of the curriculum. Children leave primary school in year 6 with an awareness and understanding of art from the Stone Age right up to contemporary art.