Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Working with New York Street Artist Bradley Theodore


Late in 2017 acclaimed New York street artist Bradley Theodore spent two days at the Pitt Rivers Museum creating a new painting as a piece of free-to-view performance art which he then donated to the Museum. In my role as Education Officer it was a privilege to spend two days with Bradley, bering inspired and watching him inspire others.

Man kneels on floor to work on a apinting
The Artist at Work © Pitt Rivers Museum


Bradley standing in front of his Pitt Rivers art
Bradley Theodore © Pitt Rivers Museum

Bradley is a natural performer, even his trousers beame part of the art.

Bradley's trousers
Bradley's Trousers © Pitt Rivers Museum

The opportunity to work with cutting edge artists like Bradley is one of the things I love most about my job. This short film gives a flavour of the experience. I filmed it on my phone so the footage and sound isn’t the best, but it is short:





Carribean-born Theodore has his roots in street art and has produced murals in Oslo, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Los Angeles. His vibrant artwork frequently features mammoths of the fashion world or historic figures stripped back to skeletal figures and has become instantly recognisable thanks to his distinctive ‘Dia de los muertos style’ (Mexican Day of the Dead); Vogue’s International Editor Suzy Menkes describes his work as ‘Banksy meets Basquiat’. Thanks to a growing number of high-profile collectors and celebrity admirers, Theodore’s renown is on the rise.

Bradley Theodore talking to some student artists
Bradley explains his art © Pitt Rivers Museum

Bradley is a talker, and is passionate about his work. While painting he was happy to chat to the public and school groups. He spent an inspiring half an hour talking to some year 10 artists about how to balance colour and the importance of maths in art. I think it is a school trip they’ll remember for quite a while.

Bradley at work
Bradley at work © Pitt Rivers Museum

Bradley Theodore came to Oxford at the invitation of the Edgar Wind Society to paint and to talk about his life and art. A big thanks to Jemma and Geo for making this happen, and to Mike Peckett for taking much better photos than I did.

Photo of a wall with painted canvases and paintbrushes on the floor
The studio © Pitt Rivers Museum

He said that he was going to donate a picture to the museum: he ended up giving us four, all his paintbrushes, and his paint. I have been using the brushes and paint for a community arts project in East Oxford. Thanks Bradley.

The finished Bradley Theodore of the Pitt Rivers and the Museum of Natural History
The finished Bradley Theodore of the Pitt Rivers
and the Museum of Natural History © Pitt Rivers Museum

The modern artist is never far from some digital inspiration.

Bradley gains some inspiration from his phone
Bradley gains some inspiration from his phone
© Pitt Rivers Museum

Andy McLellan
Head of Education
Pitt Rivers Museum

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Funky headgear, family fun and trainee primary school teachers!

In the last few weeks we have been lucky enough to have two sets of trainee primary school teachers placed with us in the education department from Oxford Brookes.  In their third year of doing a BA Hons in Primary Education, the students have been participating in a module called 'Learning Beyond the Classroom'.  As the Primary School Education Officer I mentor them during their placement and model the learning opportunties available for pupils within a museum context.

This placement happens every year and this time I decided to get both sets of students involved in planning family activities.  Many families visit the Pitt Rivers as they want to support learning which is happening at school and as they want a stimulating learning experience.  This experience was certainly given to families at the Amazing Armour Pitt stop on 7th October! James and Rachael created a fabulous trail where families had to track down armour made from amazing materials (crocodile skin, coconut-tree fibre, fish scales, string and much more!).  Participants raved about the trail including a special needs teacher and a primary school teacher all the way from California! Families were also given the chance to try on armour as well as make their own version of a puffer fish helmet.

One person wearing a paper puffer fish helmet an done person wearing a replica puffer fish helemt
Planning a family activity on Amazing Armour! © Pitt Rivers Museum

One person wearing a paper puffer fish helmet and one person wearing a replica puffer fish helmet
Puffer fish chatting © Pitt Rivers Museum

The second set of students looked at how they could adapt the armour trail designed for a family audience to suit the needs of a primary school audience.   They could draw on their knowledge of the primary curriculum to help create a stimulating self-guided trail. They also worked alongside the new Families and Communities Education Officer, Beth McDougall, to plan family activities for the October half-term on Bats, Cats, Witches and Charms.  The students applied their knowledge and understanding of how learning occurs to craft suitable activities.


Two peole sit at a table planning a trail
Desiging an Armour and Defence Trail © Pitt Rivers Museum

During their placement students also observed a wide range of sesions which are delivered by the education team: a bespoke KS1 Materials session themed round the 'Three Little Pigs', an Arts Award session for Iffley Academy and an extended talk for a visiting Higher Education group. They seemed to enjoy the diversity of sessions and also got stuck in with delivery to primary school kids (teachers will be teachers!)

It is great to work in partnership with Oxford Brookes to help deliver their BA in Primary Education and we look forward to getting another excellent cohort of students next year!  In January we will be showcasing how pupils learn from objects to PGCE students from Oxford Brookes.  I'll keep you posted!

Becca McVean
Education Officer (Primary)