Photomontage: scheme of work
The activities outlined below can either be used together to form a unit of work or as a series of discrete activities enabling the theme to be explored in greater depth.
With reference to contemporary art from the Arab world and Middle East, students will explore the theme of photomontage.
In this unit, students will:
- create an imaginative photomontage based on world events
- develop an awareness of photomontage technique and practice
- develop critical awareness through their own creative work and by looking at the work of others
Show the students the image Cairo Faces by Egyptian artist Sabah Naim. She focuses our attention on the contrast between the lives of ordinary people and places in Egypt and the international world of TV, newspapers and politicians. Discuss the image with the class and highlight how Naim has given the people character and importance by painting on to some of them.
You could also look at the work of Laila Shawa and Malekeh Nayiny on the Word into Art online tour to consider how artists manipulate photographic images to create powerful compositions.
Talk about photomontage and the ways in which artists use the technique to create new meanings by combining everyday images in unusual ways. Look at and discuss the Cut and Paste website.
Discuss how we can use the internet to access news media to find out about the lives of people around the world and how they manage their lives through natural disasters, conflict and celebration, among other experiences.
Introduce the unit task - students are to develop an imaginative photomontage based on world events.
By searching both the internet and daily newspapers, ask the students to select images on a particular theme – global unrest, climate change, politics and good news etc. Ask them to explain what theme they are focusing on and why.
Remind the students about photomontage. Show them the work of artist Sean Hillen. In the ‘Troubles’ series Hillen uses his own black and white photographs combining them with other more romantic images to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. Explain to the students that they are going to create a photomontage using their research. In their sketchbooks get them to look carefully at their images and to make a number of compositional sketches combining their images on their chosen theme. Talk to them about composition and scale, thinking carefully about foreground, middle distance and background.
Discuss the students’ compositions and ask them to make a photomontage that combines their chosen elements. Show them how to refine their ideas by using a photocopier to enlarge or reduce the size of certain images to create a balanced composition. If necessary, they can use the internet to find additional images.
Use a digital camera or scanner to digitise the finished collages. Demonstrate how to use digital software to remove all the colour from the image. Look again at Cairo Faces. The artist uses selective colour to give importance to the people in the photograph. Demonstrate how the students can add colour to areas of their digital images to emphasise the importance of certain elements.
As an extension activity, students could also take photographs of everyday scenes around the school and combine these with images of a major international or national event to create a photomontage.
Once they have completed the work, the students should write up and evaluate the process, explaining the significance of their photomontage piece.