The World Cup – A case study for inclusion

Video Highlights

Being born in England, every four years we would get our hopes up that his might be the time we win it.

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We have some of the world’s largest and most expensive football clubs but why did we always lose?

Why is the World Cup important?

It brings us all together.

It makes us laugh!

It makes us cry

You get around a team and you instantly become part of a tribe, a family.

You hug strangers, you share in joy or disappointment and for that brief time, you are all one.

In total, 97 foreign-born players competed for the 32 countries (shown here) that qualified for the 2018 World Cup.

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When we have foreign players do amazing things for our national team everyone accepts them as one of us. There is no “insert descriptive word”.

You can catch all the preliminary matches on TV4Education.

Who are you going for?

Dunkirk – Life or Death on the beaches

SmartLessons, Video Highlights

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DUNKIRK HD (2017)

The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940.

What was it like on the beach?

The German Dive-Bombers had sirens on them to spread terror.

They dropped leaflets letting the soldiers know that they were surrounded.

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The beach was too shallow for their troop transport ships to land so hundreds of small boats had to pick them up.

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We learn more about this battle which could have ended the war for the allies.

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Dunkirk The New Evidence

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The Dunkirk Story

 

 

Metropolis (1927)

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

timothy-eberly-382663-unsplashFritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis was ground breaking in many ways. At the time, it was the most expensive German film ever made, costing over 5 million reichsmarks and taking 17 months to film, nearly financially capsizing the production studio, UFA. As one of the first feature length science fiction films ever made, Metropolis is an expansive story that is renowned even today for its extravagant scenery, art direction, cinematography and utilisation of German expressionist techniques. At its original run time of 153 minutes, it was one of the longest films made, contributing to its initial financial failure, as it required over four kilometres of film to run it, a weighty investment for any theatre. With the science fiction genre as we know it today still largely being defined in this era (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, often considered the first work of science fiction, was published in 1818), it was a difficult film to categorise and advertise. Indeed, an advertisement from New Zealand reads ‘See it! Try to describe it!’ Nonetheless, it has since become recognised as a highly influential film, becoming the first film to be inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2001, and is widely studied in schools today for both its historical context as part of the Weimar Republic, an example of early science fiction, German Expressionism and the utilisation of the silent film genre.

The film was accompanied by a novelisation, published in 1925 by director Fritz Lang’s then-wife and credited screenwriter, Thea von Harbou. However, it was the film that really made an impact, with many praising its technical prowess whilst simultaneously lambasting it as being overlong and overwrought. Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times called it “a technical marvel with feet of clay”, whilst renowned sci-fi author H.G Wells criticised the film as being rampant with “foolishness, cliché, platitude and muddlement about mechanical progress and progress in general.” Regardless of these criticisms, Metropolis has undoubtedly had an impact upon contemporary science fiction, with as film critic Roger Ebert stated “from this film in various ways, descended not only ‘Dark City’, but ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Fifth Element’, ‘Alphaville’, Escape From L.A’, ‘Gattaca’ and Batman’s Gotham City… Rotwang created the visual look of mad scientists for decades to come, especially after it was mirrored in ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’… the device of the ‘false Maria’… inspired the ‘Replicants’ of ‘Blade Runner.’” It was one of the first examples of the dystopia / utopia theme in science fiction, something that has continued to be explored (e.g.: 1984, Brave New World, Never Let Me Go, The Matrix, etc.) and has seen a resurgence in recent years.

The film’s most famous quote, “the mediator between head and hands must be the heart” reverberates throughout the entire film, with Metropolis demonstrating a schism between the upper and lower classes. In this case it is literal, with the lower classes living underground and the upper classes living amongst the sprawling excess of the city, overshadowed by their monolithic buildings, which are a combination of the grandeur of Greco-Roman architecture and luxe, geometric (harking back to the streamlined appearance of machines) Art Deco. Indeed, the sets appear to dwarf the actors, with the machines and the structures taking visual precedence. This is exemplified when Freder imagines one of the machines as Moloch, a Canaanite god / idol that required child sacrifice that is referenced in Leviticus. This precedence of machines is rectified by the end of the film, but this also highlights Lang’s propensity for biblical allusions throughout the film- the tower of Babel, the idolatress of Babylon and the beast with seven heads, Maria as a virtuous Mary figure preaching to the workers, Freder as a Christlike mediator between above and below, the gardens as a reference to Eden, etc. This lends the story gravity and also helped in creating a grounding point for the audience, references that they were familiar with amongst the fantastical landscape Lang presented.

Metropolis was released during the ‘golden era’ of the Weimar Republic, a brief period of stability and prosperity in Germany, prior to World War II. With a permanent currency implemented in 1923 and the Dawes Plan in 1924, it sparked a cultural renaissance, born in the wake of World War I, the immense hyperinflation and the influence of the cultural development in the Soviet Union. Innovations in German cinema, literature, architecture (particularly Bauhaus), film, art and theatre came to the forefront, with a fascination with the ‘ultramodern’ in addition to the mediums of cabaret and jazz and an overall differentiation from more traditional German values- an influence that is certainly explored in Metropolis. There was a certain contention between the pull of traditional values versus the influence of globalisation and the influx of other cultures, particularly America (via American films and fashion), with Americanisation progressing largely due to the Dawes Plan.

German Expressionism was at its peak during this time, with Metropolis being a prime example. It was more concerned with the evocation of a particular mood and aimed to show a highly subjective view of the world, as compared to the strict realism and somewhat detached perspective of art and film previously. This internal perspective was highly effective and necessary in silent film, given the absence of audible dialogue. This was characterised by evocative lighting (particularly via chiaroscuro, obviously highlighting certain objects / characters and casting others in shadow) and utilising different camera angles and perspectives. In the post World War I environment, there was an increased fascination with the human psyche, madness and the question of identity, as life as most people knew it had been irrevocably shifted.

Metropolis is a highly influential film that is broadly studied today. Whether you are exclusively studying the film or the Weimar Republic, 20th century Germany, the development of silent film or the consolidation of the science fiction genre, it is an important piece of culture that is still highly relevant.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to this subject. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Metropolis (Movie 1927)

German Expressionism: Crash Course Film History #7

Fritz Lang Interviewed by William Friedkin (1974)

The Silent Era: Crash Course Film History #9

The History of Cinema- Silent Era

BBC Paul Mertons Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema

Generation War (Part One)

Dawes Plan

Ten Minute History- The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany (Short Documentary)

The Great Depression: Crash Course US History #33

 

 

Designing a productive garden (Science year 4 & 5)

SmartLessons, Video Highlights

Curriculum Code:

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)

Scientific knowledge is used to inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE217)

Aim:

Increase students design and scientific skills as they design a school yard productive garden.

Preparing:

– Discuss the students understanding of a ‘productive garden’. What is a productive garden? How can we create one? When thinking about a garden and its crops what do we need to consider.
– Use the IWB link to help make a list of these concerns.

Link: Growing A Productive Garden

Presenting:

Search TV4Education for “Gardening Australia ACSSU073” and watch clip from 13:54 till 19:05.

– Discuss the issues that were brought up about the need for a community garden.

Add them to the list created above in ‘Growing a productive garden’.

Applying:

– Help place students into pairs and set them the task of designing their own productive garden. Students will need to show its size and the different types of plants and animals they will include.

– Draw the garden and surrounding buildings, walkways and water in order to show it’s area in the school.

– They will also need to be able to instruct others how their garden is productive.

This lesson could be a great lead up to a science project, using research tools students would be able to design and justify the reasons for their garden design and choice of animals and plants.

*Links:

Growing a Productive garden doc.

TV4Education Video Learning Lessons

Saving Energy (Science Year 1,2 & 3)

SmartLessons, Video Highlights

Curriculum Code:

Light and sound are produced by a range of sources and can be sensed (ACSSU020) People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022) People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035)
Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

Aim:

Students develop understanding of energy and how to save energy.

Preparing:

– Ask students about energy, what gives us energy?
– Sing a song or dance of high energy which will show good instructions on how to use up energy.
– Once complete ask students how they feel? Did you feel this way before we sung or danced?
– Explain energy, what uses it, how we use it? How we need to save it etc.
– Listen to the story ‘The Day Amy saved the World’ and then discuss what she did to save energy.

Presenting:

– Have students look at different energy uses around the home. Have students make a list of different items in the house that use energy. Open up the link below and look at the different items in Amy’s house that uses energy.
– Link: Amy’s Energy saving website. (Click on Amy’s House)
– Watch Eco Maths Clip – http://www.tv4education.com/SmartLibrary/SmartLibraryWeb/TitleView.html?BookID=151132.01

Applying:

– Have students use the link below to draw different items in their house that uses energy. Talk about ways we can reduce the energy used at home.
– Have students place this into their science books.
– Link: We can Save Energy

Links:

‘The Day Amy saved the World’
http://www.amysenergysave.com.au/storybook/index.html#/the-day- amy-helped- save-the- world
Amy’s Energy saving website.
http://www.amysenergysave.com.au/index.html
We can Save Energy doc.

The Renaissance

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

eric-terrade-8615-unsplashThe Renaissance is one of the most fascinating and innovative periods in history, and also one of the most hotly debated. There is much contention as to whether or not it can really be considered, as the term Renaissance suggests, a ‘rebirth’ of society, following the Middle Ages, especially with its deep roots and harking back to Greco-Roman classicism, two empires that were recognised as having ‘fallen’ almost a thousand years previously. Additionally, there is also debate as to whether or not it was a series of independent discoveries and philosophies made over several centuries (the Renaissance is commonly agreed to have been between c. 14th-17th centuries A.D) as opposed to a centralised movement. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, the Renaissance gave birth to some of the most innovative works of art, literature, architecture, inventions and discoveries in science and medicine that the world has seen since.

Originating in Florence, Italy, the Renaissance spread over the majority of Europe in the following centuries. It was grounded in the philosophy of humanism, which largely sought to hark back to the values of classical Greece and Rome, aiming to create a people group that were educated and literate, capable of utilising the studies of the humanities (e.g. philosophy, history, poetry, rhetoric, etc.) for the betterment of their broader society, rather than it being an elusive mark of status. It was the idea of humanism that largely birthed the popular idea of the ‘Renaissance man’- one that was well versed in everything from literature to art, Greek and Roman myths, science, history, theology, engineering and even stonemasonry, as opposed to focusing all their attention upon their designated trade. This Renaissance ideal is epitomised in many of the icons of the era, à la Galileo, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Da Vinci, for example, whilst likely best known as a painter, also considered himself a philosopher, engineer, sculptor, engineer, architect and more, whilst Michelangelo was also an architect and poet in addition to being a renowned sculptor and painter, with a keen interest in anatomy. There was a central ideology of this ‘whole’ education informing every aspect of their lives and working practice as opposed to a more isolated focus.

The Renaissance period is perhaps most commonly renowned for its art, after all, it is responsible for masterpieces such as the ‘Mona Lisa’, Michelangelo’s ‘David’, ‘The Last Supper’, Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ and many more. There was a huge elevation in the status of the artist during this period, largely due to patronage from wealthy clients such as the Medici and Borgia families. The influence of humanism is evident in much of the art, with artist’s knowledge of mathematics, anatomy, architecture, etc. vastly developing art in a way that had not  previously been widespread. Additionally, the ideals and newfound fascination with classicism’s interest in accurate anatomy and fascination with the physical form partnered with the religious influence and monetary support of the Church paved the way for many masterpieces on a scale never before seen in history, obvious in works such as Michelangelo’s ‘David’, ‘Pieta’ and Sistine Chapel Ceiling. The grandeur of religion was fully fledged and the asceticism previously demonstrated in Christianity largely fell from favour, at least in regards to art and architecture.

Whilst the period may be most commonly renowned for its contributions to art and architecture, it also gave birth to some incredibly revolutionary inventions: the printing press, the mechanical clock, the telescope, the microscope, eyeglasses, the barometer, italics, the violin, the anemometer, the list goes on. In short, the Renaissance undoubtedly shaped our cultural view of the modern world as we know it, be it Galileo’s radical advances in astronomy or Gutenberg’s printing press.

The Renaissance period is one of the most influential times in history, arguably being a catalyst for the world as we know it today. Its effect is visible in almost every field and subject, with the explorations of art, science, literature and more largely forming the foundation for contemporary culture in the West. Whilst it may be more explicitly studied in art or history, knowledge of the Renaissance period will undoubtedly benefit any students understanding of their subject.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to this subject. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

The Renaissance Unchained- God, Myths and Oil Paints (S01E01)

Italy Unpacked

Self Portraits of the Me Generation- Togetherness (S01E01)

Great Scientists- Galileo

Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man of Math

Inside the Mind of Leonardo

The Caravaggio Affair

The Nude in Art with Tim Marlow, The Renaissance, EP2

Bronzino Restoring Genius

Masterpieces of the Hermitage Raphael, Da Vinci & The High Italian Renaissance S01 E11

Masterpieces of the Hermitage Art of the Early Italian Renaissance S1 E10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness or Reconciliation?

Newsletters, Video Highlights

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which this piece was written today. I would also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present.

Today we will be exploring what it means to forgive and what it means to reconcile.

Let’s look up the definitions.

Forgiveness:

verb (used with object), for·gave, for·giv·en, for·giv·ing.
  1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
  2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
  3. to grant pardon to (a person).

Reconciliation:

noun
  1. an act of reconciling, as when former enemies agree to an amicable truce.
  2. the state of being reconciled, as when someone becomes resigned to something not desired.
  3. the process of making consistent or compatible.

This week is a time once a year when the focus is on how lucky we are to be in this country.

As an immigrant myself like (98%) of Australia’s population I feel very blessed to be in a country that is peaceful, prosperous and for the most part a wonderful place.

I remember spending a week in a township just north of Cairns called Yarrabah helping run a childrens program with my church, yes that’s me dressed up as a clown.

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It was a wonderful time to get to know more about a culture I was not very exposed to, growing up in an Afro-Caribbean family in London I knew a lot about my culture despite being thousands of miles from my ancestral place.

When I arrived in New Zealand for the first time I learned a lot about their culture, language, and customs. It was taught in school, the news was presented in the language of the land. There was a definite strong representation of their culture.

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When I arrived in Australia, it was quite different, I would get small snippets of culture, at art galleries with paintings in the 10s of thousands, or a 30-minute program on NITV. But not until I got to the township did I really get to experience this vibrant and wonderful history. I learned about the hundreds of nations that make up the one we call our own.

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I remember seeing some 6 or 7-year-olds throwing rocks at something on the beach only to be told later they were scaring away the local 8ft croc. Best leave it to the experts!

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So Forgiveness Vs Reconciliation.

To forgive is to choose to let go of a past injustice.

I forgave my old housemate for eating my tim-tams, I know right! You understand why he is now my “old Housemate”.

But we reconciled when he brought me back some Lindt chocolate of his own free will. I didn’t expect anything back after I forgave but he recognised his error and made amends.

That’s reconciliation

When the person who did wrong makes it right.

Now before I hear “I didn’t do it” or “that was 300 years ago” Yes, you are right it was. But there are still imbalances that are still affecting Australians today.

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This documentary by John Piliger explores those imbalances and starts a conversation about the country that we live in. It tells us a little about the Oldest continuous culture in the world. Before Egypt, Ethiopia, China, India, The Mayans, Greece, Rome and all those that have come since.

Some areas have seen improvement and I commend the work of everyone who has worked at achieving this. But we still have a way to go.

#DontKeepHistoryAMystery

John Steinbeck

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

debby-hudson-571368-unsplashJohn Steinbeck (1902-1968) was one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, dubbed ‘a giant of American letters’ and shaping the face of modern literature along with other giants of the craft such as Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald. Having won both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize in his lifetime, it is undeniable that his work resonated deeply with his readers, renowned for his syncretism of realism and imagination, and perhaps most profoundly, his social commentary. This is perhaps most famously displayed in his magnum opus, the 1939 tome The Grapes of Wrath, detailing the influence of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression on American families. It is this acute depiction of wider historical and social issues that were sweeping America that has, in part, made his body of work so enduring and widely studied to this day.

Growing up in California, Steinbeck utilised this ground as the basis for much of his work- East of Eden, Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, The Grapes of Wrath, The Red Pony and many more were centred around this locale, capturing in part the nostalgia and mythicism of childhood and the fables he grew up, largely influenced by the nobility of the stories of King Arthur and tempered with the realism of the people he grew up with: the ‘paisanos’ and ranch hands and ordinary working class of America. This fascination with lore and legend is apparent throughout much of his work, influencing his voice in stories such as Tortilla Flat, where he explicitly poses Danny and his ramshackle friends as knights of the Round Table.

With Steinbeck’s body of work amounting to 27 books throughout his lifetime, Steinbeck was renowned for his social perception and adhered largely to the old adage of ‘write what you know’- mirrored through his portrayals of central California and the people who lived there, in addition to the plights and influence of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. It is this correlation between his life and what Steinbeck wrote that ensures that an understanding of his life is crucial to the study of his work. Despite his statement that ‘writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals’, his work has had an enduring influence beyond the factor of entertainment, and he is touted today as having produced some of the seminal great American novels of the 20th century.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to this subject. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Great Writers- John Steinbeck

A Letter to Elia

The Grapes of Wrath (movie 1940)

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck audiobook part 1

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck audiobook part 2

John Steinbeck: An American Writer

John Steinbeck gives Nobel Prize Speech

Of Mice and Men (1992)

 

 

 

 

The Archibald Prize

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

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The Archibald Prize is arguably the most prestigious and iconic portraiture award in Australia. Since its commencement in 1921 at the posthumous bequest of J.F Archibald, a former co-owner and editor of The Bulletin, the Prize has been the cause of much controversy and media attention, consolidating the career of many artists. Whilst it isn’t the highest paying Australian portraiture prize ($100,000 to the Moran’s $150,000), it is far better known, and for good reason, with J.F Archibald’s edict stating that the portraits are to be ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’. As such, the Archibald has oft depicted well known people of varying degrees of celebrity: politicians, actors, musicians, sports stars, other artists (à la Ben Quilty’s portrait of Australian icon Margaret Olley in 2011).

As we fast approach the centenary of the prize with today’s announcement of the 2018 winner, Yvette Coppersmith’s ‘Self-portrait, after George Lambert’, the Prize has demonstrated how portraiture has moved strictly from realism to a more emotive mode of painting. This was first particularly noted after the controversy surrounding the now infamous painting ‘Portrait of an Artist (Joshua Smith)’ by Sir William Dobell (whose portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore is featured on the Australian $10 notes)which won the prize in 1943, calling into question the nature and guidelines of portraiture, with the work being contested in the Supreme Court of New South Wales by two other entrants for falling into the genre of caricature as opposed to portraiture and thus not eligible for the prize. Nonetheless, their verdict was overturned and the Archibald has continued to be a demonstration of the changing face of art within Australia.

In 2014, there were over 130,000 tickets sold to the finalist exhibitions for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes, and it is an event that attracts over $1 million in profit each year, with that number only climbing. There is criticism that it is, to quote gallery owner Michael Reid, ‘a media circus’ as opposed to a respected art prize. Regardless of opinion, it has undoubtedly cemented its place in the Australian art world and provides a platform for artists such as Ben Quilty, Del Kathryn Barton, Yvette Coppersmith, Fiona Lowry and more to be recognised outside of the often introspective sphere of the art world.

Portraiture is so often stereotyped as a stoic, bygone form of art, with Dobell stating during the Joshua Smith case that ‘so long as people expect paintings to be simply coloured photographs they get no individuality and in the case of portraits, no characterisation. The real artist is striving to depict his subject’s character and to stress the caricature, but at least it is art which is alive.’ That is not to say that realism is out dated and irrelevant, but that the nature of portraiture goes beyond capturing a physical likeness of the subject. It is perhaps this unique insight of the artist, particularly when applied to so many notable figures in Australian culture, that has made the Archibald Prize the icon that it is today.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to this subject. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

The Archibald- Welcome to the Archibald (S01E01)

The Archibald- First Strokes (S01E02)

The Archibald- D Day (S01E03)

The Archibald- And The Winner Is (S01E04)

Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery- Ben Quilty

Artscape Paths to Portraiture

Art Nation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest We Forget

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

laura-goodsell-335009-unsplashANZAC Day is one of the most momentous days on both the Australian and New Zealand calendars, marking the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915. This was one of the first major military actions on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand forces in WW1, with the campaign resulting in the loss of more than 8,000 Australian lives, with over 60,000 Australian lives being lost over the course of WW1. ANZAC Day has thus come to commemorate the sacrifice of all those who served and protected their country, not only in WW1, but in every war, conflict and peacekeeping operation that has followed since.

Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years prior to the landing at Gallipoli, and the ANZAC legend has undoubtedly formed a foundational part of our national identity. The 25th of April serves as an occasion on which to honour the camaraderie, bravery and sacrifice of our troops in protecting the freedom of our country and Australian way of life. It is an opportunity to reflect upon the contribution of friends and family members, both past and present, and to pay our respects to those who built the values by which we uphold ourselves to on a national scale.

‘Lest we forget’ is one of the seminal phrases of the ANZAC tradition, and for good reason- it is an occasion of commemoration and serves as a constant reminder to never forget the imprint of every person who has contributed to the protection of our nation, commencing with many of our ancestors in Gallipoli. Understanding the history of this contribution is unquestionably a key part of continuing the ANZAC tradition and giving it the full scope and honour that it deserves.

As ANZAC Day approaches, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon its history and significance, and how it continues to influence our lives to this day. Here at TV4Education, we wholeheartedly believe in the enduring influence of education, and understanding the sacrifice, history and stories of the ANZACs and the role they played in the formation of our cultural identity is undoubtedly a part of that, so that this tradition will be perpetuated for generations to come. Lest we forget.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources in relation to ANZAC Day. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Lest We Forget What

Gallipoli Symphony

Gallipoli (1981 movie)

Monash- The Forgotten ANZAC

ANZACs- Remembering Our Heroes

ANZAC Girls- Adventure (S01E01)

Deadline Gallipoli Part 1 (S01E01)

ANZAC Day National Dawn Service Canberra

 

 

Soup Cans and Superstars: How Pop Art Changed the World

SmartLessons, Sophie's Tips, Tips and Tricks, Video Highlights

cris-tagupa-606858-unsplashPop art is one of the seminal art movements of the mid 20th century: brash, bold and instantly iconic. Whilst it was arguably initiated in Britain, it took root in the advertisements and commercialism of the modern American landscape, designed to appear lightweight and vacuous. However, as host Alastair Sookes states in the documentary Soup Cans and Superstars: How Pop Art Changed the World, pop art has far more depth than it is often given credit for, being utilised to ‘expose the dark side of the American dream.’

What exactly is pop art? In 1957, pop artist Richard Hamilton defined it as the following: ‘popular (designed for a mass audience); transient (short term solution); expendable (easily forgotten); low cost; mass produced; young (aimed at youth); witty; sexy; gimmicky; glamorous; and big business.’ In short, it seeks to emulate the industry of its eponymous popular (pop) culture, mass media and advertising that it so often commentates on, bringing commercial art into the gallery.

Unlike many art movements, à la Dadaism, Futurism, Symbolism, Realism, Surrealism, Cubism and more, pop art wasn’t initiated with a strict manifesto regarding its boundaries or its foundation. However, like many of these movements, pop art plays with the boundaries of what is considered to be art, creating syncretism between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. The majority of the pop art movement was formed in isolation, made cohesive by the spirit of the time rather than commonality with other artists. Indeed, as curator Henry Geldzahler stated to Andy Warhol, ‘It was like a science fiction movie- you pop artists in different parts of the city, unknown to each other, rising up out of the muck and staggering forward with your paintings in front of you.’

Many famous pop artists, such as Warhol and James Rosenquist had their start in advertising. Their artwork often plays with the concepts of consumerism, celebrity and media, of mass reproduction, and the advertising ideal of happiness being a commodity. Advertising as we know it today had its genesis in the late 1940’s and 50’s, with the introduction of television advertisements, and pop art, coming to the forefront in the 1950’s and 60’s, was very much a reactionary framework for artists. As Sookes notes, pop art ‘holds up a mirror to the times… in all its Technicolor, tarnished glory.’ Against the backdrop of the Cold War and in a post WWII society, the glossy façade of celebrity and mass media was increasingly apparent, with the dichotomy between their projected optimism and artist’s cynicism being a frequent theme, prominently displayed in works such as Warhol’s ‘Marilyn Diptych’, Rosenquist’s ‘F-111’ and Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Whaam!’

Pop art is a unique movement, in that in often directly participates in perpetuating the very aspects it is commenting on. A perfect example of this is Warhol’s infamous ‘Factory’, which cemented him as one of the first ‘business artists’, a model that has found favour with many contemporary artists (Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst spring to mind). Warhol’s method of screen printing allowed him to mass produce his work, this mechanical, accessible art style being a direct representation of Western consumerism, with Warhol noting that what was wonderful about America was that they ‘started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola… you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola… you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke.’ This is further extrapolated in his famous ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’, playing with everyday, highly recognisable imagery, and in doing so, taking art out of the gallery and into everyday life.

Whilst pop art is often intrinsically linked with the golden age of advertising in America, Sookes is also quick to note that it didn’t only find its home in the U.S.A. Pop art stretched to Britain, France, Germany and the USSR, often finding its beginnings as protest art. However, it consolidated its place in China’s late 20th century economic boom, as they embraced political reform and opened their doors to Western society. Long after the NY Times had declared the pop movement as ‘dead’, pop art found new life in China’s ‘tiger economy’ of the 1980’s, something that has continued into their current day art scene, reflecting an inherent fascination with the deeply embedded role that the nation has in the culture of consumerism and mass production.

Pop art is one of the major art movements of the mid 20th century, however, its reach stretches far beyond the typical association with the so called ‘golden age of advertising’ from the 1950’s and 60’s. Pop art has undoubtedly informed our perception of art today, serving as a direct commentary on our culture and influencing the business model of many current artists, utilising mass production and an assimilation of popular culture as a means of furthering their reach. The documentary Soup Cans and Superstars is an excellent resource in the study of this fascinating movement and will undoubtedly assist students in their understanding.

Here’s a list of TV4Education resources that can be used in relation to the topics covered in this post. If you use the SmartSuite version of TV4Education, just search for the titles below on your site:

Soup Cans and Superstars- How Pop Art Changed the World

Alan Cumming on Pop Art

Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein

A Guide to Pop Art

Behind the Artist- Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

TED-ED Lessons Worth Sharing- A Brief History of Graffiti

Coming Soon to TV4Education

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