As part of the National Gallery’s Take One Picture initiative, Year 4 and 5 pupils at King Edward’s School, Bath have created a series of ceramic vases and bas-relief tiles inspired by Rubens’ painting, A Roman Triumph.

Take One Picture is the National Gallery’s flagship scheme for primary schools. Each year the Gallery focuses on one painting from its collection to inspire cross-curricular work in classrooms. This year, with their art lessons as the driver, Year 4 and 5 used the Roman theme from Rubens’ painting to look at Roman amphorae and carved bas-reliefs. They also explored the idea of ‘triumph’ ahead of Year 4 creating vases that celebrated a personal triumph, and Year 5 creating a parade of national and sporting triumphs in their relief tiles.

As Year 4 developed their vases, their exploration of personal triumph in PSHE lessons identified moments of individual pride, from earning a belt in taekwondo to learning to ride a bike, and it was such episodes that the children chose as the decorative theme for their vases. After modelling and firing the vases and applying a glaze, the final decoration was added; gold lustre and photographic transfers of the children at a moment of personal achievement.

It has proved to be a very popular project amongst Year 4, with Panos saying, “I was inspired by Rubens’ painting and decided to create a vase that celebrated my triumphs in football.” Meanwhile Morven is hoping her vase will be “passed down the generations!” The artistic techniques involved were also enjoyed, with Ulrika adding that, “decorating my vase was fun as I liked using the sgraffito tool.”

Year 6’s ceramic bas-relief tiles are equally impressive, as they considered Rubens’ painting alongside modern-day processions, such as the athletes parading at the Rio Olympic and Paralympics and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. Having settled on the themes for their terracotta tiles, Year 6 practised drawing figures in profile, much as Rubens’ portrays figures in his painting, before building up the bas-relief detail on their tiles. Once complete all 60 tiles can be laid out, one after the other to create a ‘joined’ parade.

With the ceramics finished and on their way to the National Gallery, the Junior School are hoping to make it four times in a row should their entries be selected for display at the National Gallery over the Summer.