Words and images: case study

Arab artists in schools project

Arab world education programme

The school

Winchmore School (Enfield, London) is a mixed comprehensive and specialist arts college for ages 11-18.

Winchmore school students with artist Athier Mousawi

The artist

Athier Mousawi is a British-Iraqi artist who specialises in graphic design, art direction, storyboarding and animatics.

The project

The main focus of the project was to introduce students to Iraqi culture through the British Museum’s collection, and for them to explore images and designs from the Arab world using their imaginations and Athier’s graphic work.

There were six sessions including a visit to the British Museum. Athier worked with a group of Year 9 students (from a Gifted and Talented class). Using his own unique graphic style, he explored a range of imagery from the Arab world to engage the students.

Using the Mesopotamian, Assyrian and Islamic galleries at the British Museum, students created highly imaginative and often surreal mixed-media drawings. They experimented with a range of artistic techniques including printmaking and assemblage.

The students also drew on Arabic script as a source of inspiration. Athier used additional Museum resources to demonstrate the relevance of the Arabic language in the history of Arab art, and to show how different artists have incorporated script into their own work. Students also looked at contemporary photography from Iraq and worked in pairs to create A3 collages.

Outcomes

The sketchbooks and A3 collages showed that Athier successfully raised students’ awareness of calligraphy and geometry. The sketchbooks also showed that all students had researched and been inspired by Athier and other successful artists from the Arab world.

“The work is of such a high quality that many students will use it as their first unit of work towards art GCSE. Much of the work is A grade and some is A*.” - Steve Willcock, Head of Art