Teaching Resource

Looking differently at Constable

Take your time and look at Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows in new and surprising ways

John Constable
Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows (exhibited 1831)

This resource is a tool for looking. It explores the work of Constable through the lens of contemporary arts practice.

Developed by photographer Elisa Noguera Lopez in response to her experience of looking at the painting through the camera.

We invite you to use photographic approaches to focus and filter your view of the painting.

The resource is a pack of cards called From Small to All and includes an artist’s introduction to read to your group.

Hand a card to each student. Let them explore the card on their own and then go into pairs.

There is a group activity at the end where you produce your own version of Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows.

You can look at the painting online above or take your group to Tate Britain.

If using the resource in the gallery, collect a pack from the schools desk, along with a hole-puncher and a set of treasure tags. Take your group to the painting and follow the instructions on the cards.

If using the resource in the classroom, download the printable version of the resource and do the activities as you look at the painting online, projected large on a screen or wall. You will need to use your own hole-puncher and treasury tags.

Where to start

Below are some question to help your group think about looking.

Look at the painting from every possible angle, look from far, look from near, look from very near. Take your time.

  • Do we see ourselves in the painting?
  • What do we unlock by fragmenting our looking and exploring other senses?
  • What makes something easy to look at but hard to understand?
  • How can we occupy space in the company of the painting?

Example activity - What colour is the grass?

Section of Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Section of Constable's Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

Use your viewfinder to explore the fields from as close as you can get to the painting.

List all the colours that you can see. Be really descriptive.

How many colours can you find? Three? Seven? Ten?

Choose one of your colours and follow it around the painting. Where else can you find that colour?

Map your findings.

Find out who else has been exploring Constable’s use of colour and talk about what you’ve been looking at with them.

About Aspire

This resource is part of Aspire, a partnership programme touring Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows 1831 across the UK. Aspire is supported by Art Fund, and by National Lottery players through the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

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More for schools to explore at Tate