The question we were considering was ‘Does modern art tell a story?’ We were lucky we had been given access to the Queens Gallery and the gifts given to the Queen by The Royal Academy in 2012.
‘We’ were twenty nine children from a Lambeth primary school and me. We stared at this drawing by John Bellany.
‘What can you see?’ I asked
A man with a mountain on his head.
A pirate with a home made hat
A man with a dead eye
Is that a stingray on his head? No it’s a skate I replied
Had the skate been blown out of the water by an explosion?
Was the man wearing the fish on his head to cure some terrible disease?
I wonder what they are saying to each other… I mused and the children wrote down some wonderful conversations.
Later on in the session we encountered this image created by Basil Beattie. Again I asked, ‘What can you see?’
There were twenty nine different answers including three sail boats, a tent, a prison searchlight, a doorway to the land of dreams, three old fashioned hats, a shark, a planetarium, the inside of a robot, a magical road, three Japanese bowls with a chip in them, the entrance to a secret cave.
Shall I tell you? I said pausing and milking the moment for dramatic effect…You are all right. The gasp of delight made my day. I'm still smiling now. What can you see?