Saturday, April 7, 2012

Egyptology for the Barbie generation?

At the moment I have three small art students on a Sunday morning who come to the studio to do various things. When I was talking to their parents about how I teach and what I'd teach I spoke about taking a holistic approach to a subject, so if, for example, we were looking at horses we'd look at paintings and statues of horses through the history of art, we'd look at the anatomy of horses, and we'd make models in clay as well as drawings - which is exactly what we did, since horses were the kids' first subject choice.

Then by popular demand we went to work on Ancient Egypt, and boy have we had fun! We've painted pyramids, looked at what Ancient Egyptians might have had in their houses, read books on the excavation of Tutankamun's tomb and tackled the exciting world of mummification! And so it came to pass that we needed a volunteer to become a mummy (or three), and the concensus was that Barbie dolls would be perfect thing! Little Bird had her own that she wanted to mummify, and had kindly donated her others to one of the students, which left one mum to go find a lonely Barbie doll at the Op Shop.

There were several varieties of wrapping, from crepe bandages to torn sheets (I ran out of bandages, or at least, wished to preserve some for their original purpose in my First Aid box!). It turned out that wrapping the three-dimensional form wasn't as easy as we thought, so little 5 1/2 year old hands had a little bit of help.

Some of us got very excited about grave goods and there was a lot of discussion about what the modern day mummy would need in their tomb to take to the afterlife. Suggestions included jewellry, something to sit on, and flip-flops ('thongs' for the Australian contingent). Little Bird spent ages modelling a precisely fitted mask and painting it to look like one she'd seen in a book!

And finally the Barbies were immured in their sarcophagi (we had a look at what that word means, too, much to everyone's horrified delight!) which we'd made the week before. A job well done.

Now all I need to do is think about next term's first project...


  1. I love the art history approach. This will be a memorable experience for your young charges.

  2. What fun. Lucky ladies (the kids - not the Barbies).