Critical and Contextual Studies: Digital Engagement
The Courtauld Gallery has a long standing partnership with BSix Sixth Form College in Hackney. Over the past three years projects have focused on using the gallery as a resource and tool to support learners in developing knowledge and skills for the contextual studies component of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design. Projects utilising The Courtauld Gallery collection are now embedded at each level of study. This year 45 students from years one and two of the level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma and the subsequent level 3-4 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design partook in projects.
First year students enjoyed an integrated art practice and art history project titledTranspositions. Over 7 sessions students worked with an art historian and artist-photographer to explore portraiture. They each chose a work from the collection and carried out research into various aspects including symbolism, identity, costume and self-staging before producing a contemporary, photographic transposition of the work. Tutor Foteini Foteinaki commented,
Students experienced first-hand the power of visual representation and its impact on the individual. Through discussions and research they have expanded their knowledge and understanding. What is most evident after this project is the confidence students gained in interpretation and meaning making using the medium of photography.
To explore this, we asked students to create a visual essay based on and around a piece from The Courtauld Gallery. Using a Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas as a starting point, they looked at how critical and contextual study can be based in the visual, and how to translate this to a digital landscape.
Through several workshops, they learnt the difference between researching from books and sourcing information online: what websites can be trusted? What image is a true reproduction of the original? What is the best way to find trusted images? How can you make sure texts from online sources are properly referenced? What are issues of copyright? How do you use the internet to research?