Art inspired by the scenes from the Miners’ Strike

As our Unit on local history and mining draws to a close, we have been looking at photographs of the scenes that took place during the ’84 Miners’ Strike.

In literacy, we were trying to imagine what those men would have been thinking about or saying in those photos.  We have decided to try and capture those feelings with a piece of artwork.  It will take several stages for us to get to the finished piece.

Step 1-

Mr Swallow brought in lots of photographs of people who are angry!  Some of them were actors, pretending to be angry and some of them were real photos of how people behaved in riots or strikes.  We were looking at the poses that showed their feelings and the posture in which they were holding their body.  A lot of them were remarkably similar!

Step 2-

Next, we chose a partner and Mr. Swallow gave us a huge piece of art paper.  We could either trace the person from the photograph and then edit the tracing to look like the character we wanted, or just use the pose of the person in the photo to inspire and inform our own drawing.  We scribbled on the back of the tracing paper so that we could then print our tracing onto the huge art paper.  Together, we built up a selection of scenes showing the angry protests of the miners on our big paper.

Step 3-

The final step was to frame the scenes.  We chose charcoal because of the obvious tonal links to coal and the miners.  Framing the scenes in a black, dusty cloud gave the pictures a foreboding sense of anger and darkness.  The charcoal even reminded us of the clouds of smoke we saw in the riot pictures or ‘clouds of anger’ as Tilly eloquently put it!  We want our pictures to represent the scary, upsetting and even dangerous situation that those miners found themselves caught up in in the dark days of 1984.

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We have been looking at the art of Sheffield-born artist, Pete McKee

We love his pictures so we wanted to analyse his style.  That means we want to figure out what makes a typical McKee painting, a McKee painting.

We spotted that he uses:

  • Bold, cartooney colours.  The colours have shadow details too.
  • Simple style, don’t use too much detail
  • You hardly ever see peoples eyes or mouths

We soon realised that there was much more to a McKee than the type of drawing though…we noticed quite a bit about the subjects he paints:

  • They are typical Yorkshire people doing things we all like to do…visiting the coast, watching footy, eating chips
  • They wear typical Yorkshire clothing, like flat caps and football shirts (unfortunately of Sheffield teams rather than Barnsley!)
  • There are often typical Yorkshire landmarks or scenery in the background (we spotted the rainy weather in the cafe scene Mr McKee!)

We decided to use all these elements to create our own Pete McKee-style artwork.  So, Mr. Swallow sketched out a few ideas about things that mattered to him (his brother helping him on his house, his father-in-law blowing on his cup of tea and even a Yorkshire pudding!)

We then looked at how to import the sketches into the computer and reformat them so that we had a digital copy of the sketch.  We then used the program, Paint, to colour in the pictures digitally…re-creating that distinctive, Pete McKee look.  Here is our progress so far…


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Challenge 7 – Cracking the code

The Pharaoh’s ancient stone tablets are littered around the school field.


The children will use all of their finely honed archeology skills to locate the tablets and decipher the hieroglyphs to crack the code.  Once they decode every word and reassemble them in the right order, they will be able to solve the ancient riddle left by the Pharaoh centuries ago…

Why don’t mummies like holidays?

Well done everyone…I think most groups got most of the words (no thanks to the wind and rain doing their best to make all of the clues disappear!!!)  The answer is…

They are afraid they will relax and…UNWIND!

Boom boom!

Thank you for that one Mr Swallow 🙄 

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Challenge 5 – History mystery

Breaking news, Ancient Egyptian scroll found.

A cryptic message, ancient and mysterious artefacts found, a tricky puzzle to solve… it looks as though we are going to need all of our knowledge about Ancient Egypt to succeed!

The Great Pyramid Was Not Built by Slave (+ 9 Other Surprising Facts About Ancient Egypt) - HistoryExtra

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Challenge 4 – Nile Valley know-how

Here, the children are going to apply their knowledge of the Nile valley and their understanding of the water cycle.

Can the children explain how it all works and links in together to you at home?

We did have another video that we wanted to upload but unfortunately names were mentioned! Ask your child at home if they can retell the water cycle process 🙂 

Nile River Map, Nile River Facts, Nile River History - Journey To Egypt


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Amazing Animals of Ancient Egypt

Today we looked at the various animals around in Ancient Egypt and what the Egyptians thought of them. Some animals like dogs and cats were used as domestic pets, whereas horses and bulls had jobs and were working animals.

Horses were used to pull the chariots and bulls were used to pull the heavy gold sarcophaguses. Here are a few examples of the lovely topic work from today.


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