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Secondary Art Project

Download the Built Environ Project PDF
Download the Portraiture Project PDF
Download the Textile Project PDF
Download the Planning Grid PDF



  • Glasgow City Archives: Dr Irene O’Brien, Senior Archivist.
  • St Mungo's Academy, Glasgow: Frank Sheridan, Principal Teacher of Art and Design and S3 students.
  • Scottish Council on Archives: Lesley Dunlop, Education Consultant.



  • Ordnance survey maps relating to the area in the 1890s, 1911, 1930s and 1960s.
  • Plans of city buildings and parks.
  • Strathclyde Police identity photographs from 1912.
  • Photographs relating to social conditions and the relief of the poor, showing women working in munitions factories in the east end of Glasgow and interior and exterior shots of deprived and affluent parts of the city.
  • Box of solicitor's documents, scrolls, seals and red tape from the 18th century.
  • Photographs of the River Clyde, the building of the M8, the Kibble Palace, street scenes of Glasgow showing buildings and traffic at the turn of the last century, and interior and exterior shots of city schools.



The unit for S3 was devised by Frank Sheridan the Principal Teacher of Art and Design at St Mungo's Academy in Bridgeton, Glasgow. The S3 class was undertaking a unit which involved free expression and use of media. Students could choose to undertake a piece of work in one of the following genres:

  • still life
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • built environment
  • figure composition or design

Lesley Dunlop liaised with Dr Irene O'Brien to ensure that appropriate archive records were selected to enable students to complete this task.



The students had a half day visit to the archive. They were given a talk about the work of the archives and why it is so important to the city and they had the opportunity to study the range of archives selected for them. Students were able to do some sketching and note taking and to ask questions about the materials on display. This session was greatly enjoyed by all participants and everyone found something of interest from which to develop their art work.

On their return to school they were able to request copies of the archive material for their final work and to view digital versions on the ‘Virtual Mitchell’. After the visit to the archive all the lessons were delivered during the art timetable by the teacher, who coached in context on the themes decided by individual students. Various ideas emerged in these lessons including:

  • Figurative drawings from the east end photographs of mothers and babies.
  • Sketches of the River Clyde showing the old docks.
  • The faces from the police identity photographs.
  • Designs taken from the City Chambers reproduced on silk scarves. An exhibition of the completed works was mounted in the foyer of the Mitchell Library.



Principal Teacher Frank Sheridan transferred the project planning into the CfE format used in the school’s art department. This shows the Expressive Arts experiences and outcomes covered by the project.



Positive outcomes and observations:

  • The aim of the project was to inspire curricular art and design activities through the use of archive records. However it also introduced most students to Glasgow City’s archive collection and the Mitchell Library. Many of the students in the class were not native to Glasgow and this gave them an insight into the collection. For others from Glasgow it was a rare visit to a city institution to learn something of their own history.
  • The students enjoyed their trip to the archives and all found a subject they wanted to develop. The prison identity photographs and how they were shot showing the hands were particularly popular.
  • The Principal Teacher found the archive materials were inspiring for the students and he found it easy to develop the unit from the archive visit.
  • The unit was clearly linked to CfE outcomes and experiences.
  • The unit will be used in the future in the school and as a model is transferrable to other schools.

Challenges and observations:

  • The visit to the archive was an essential part of the project as it provided the students with an opportunity to contextualise the records and to ask relevant questions of a professional archivist. Such visits depend on there being an appropriate archive facility within travelling distance of the school, a willingness to resource the visit, and sufficient time and resources being available at the archive facility