The Courtauld Public Programmes works with local schools, colleges and community groups to offer a variety of experiences and opportunities for young people outside of formal education. We aim to engage students with the research and academic thinking that personifies The Courtauld Institute of Art. Featured below are details about focussed workshops taking inspiration from aspects of the temporary exhibitions at The Courtauld Gallery.


Critical and Contextual Studies: Digital Engagement

The Courtauld Gallery has a long standing partnership with BSix Sixth Form College in Hackney. Over the past three years projects have focused on using the gallery as a resource and tool to support learners in developing knowledge and skills for the contextual studies component of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Art and Design. Projects utilising The Courtauld Gallery collection are now embedded at each level of study.  This year 45 students from years one and two of the level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma and the subsequent level 3-4 Foundation Diploma in Art and Design partook in projects. 

drawing in gallery

Students from BSix Sixth Form College researching portraiture at The Courtauld Gallery

First year students enjoyed an integrated art practice and art history project titled Transpositions. Over 7 sessions students worked with an art historian and artist-photographer to explore portraiture. They each chose a work from the collection and carried out research into various aspects including symbolism, identity, costume and self-staging before producing a contemporary, photographic transposition of the work. Tutor Foteini Foteinaki commented:

“Students experienced first-hand the power of visual representation and its impact on the individual.  Through discussions and research they have expanded their knowledge and understanding.  What is most evident after this project is the confidence students gained in interpretation and meaning making using the medium of photography.”

student portrait

Susan Nathaniel, Transposition - A Bar at the Folies Bergère, Photographeed by Marysa Dowling, 2014

Second year students participated in a digital project centred on twentieth-century art historian Aby Warburg utilising pinterest.  Pinterest is a tool most teachers are aware of: a way to collect images digitally and to shift through the multitude of artworks that are available on the internet.

aby warburg
Aby Warburg, Installation photograph Penetration of Southern Art through French and Flemish Channels in the Age of Elizabeth, Display panel from the exhibition British Art and the Mediterranean, The Warburg Institute, London, 1941.

To explore this, we asked students to create a visual essay based on and around a piece from The Courtauld Gallery. Using a Aby Warburg and his Mnemosyne Atlas as a starting point, they looked at how critical and contextual study can be based in the visual, and how to translate this to a digital landscape. Through several workshops, they learnt the difference between researching from books and sourcing information online: what websites can be trusted? What image is a true reproduction of the original? What is the best way to find trusted images? How can you make sure texts from online sources are properly referenced? What are issues of copyright? How do you use the internet to research?

pinterest board

BSix student’s Pinterest board on Wyndham Lewis’ Red Portrait 1937 from The Courtauld Institute of Art

Check out The Courtauld’s Education Pinterest here.


Launching this September! A competition for school and FE college students aged 16 to 19 years to click, connect, and construct a Pinterest board. Check out The Courtauld Education’sPinterest and our Click, Connect, Construct page for more information.

First story

In partnership with First Story

First Story event at The Courtauld Institute 1 First Story event at The Courtauld Institute 2 First Story event at The Courtauld Institute 3

In April 2014, we partnered with the charity First Story to pilot a wonderful creative writing project in the gallery. We worked with 30 year 9 and year 10 students from Skinner’s Academy in Hackney and St Martin’s Lambeth. After visiting the Courtauld Gallery collection, students produced short texts and poems based on some of the characters in our Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. The work produced was incredibly creative and moving and we are hoping to run more of these projects next year.

First Story logo

Victory over the square

In partnership with Pushkin House, London

Students from Maria Fidelis Convent School in London explored the early 20th century (pre 1917) Russian Art collection on display at The Courtauld Gallery with academic Dr Natalia Murray and artist Yelena Popova to produce their own groups Manifesto and artworks.

victory over the square 7

view the project's webpage

the old and the new: creative contrasts

Drawing Project

18 students aged 6 to 11 from Heronsgate Primary School participated in a project The Old and the New: Creative Contrasts from the 11th – 25th November 2013. Students explored a wide range of drawing techniques through workshops in the gallery and back at school inspired by the exhibition The Young Dürer: Drawing the Figure and Richard Serra: Drawings for The Courtauld Pupils utilised Richard Serra's comments on the drawing process as a manifesto for their creative enquirey into the exhibitions:

"[...] process has always taken precedence over results. Preconceptions limit the working process thereby reducing the possibility of discovery.”

seea gallery drawing gallery drawing drawing in gallery

Focusing on process and the experience of drawing the group worked on collaborative and independent drawings, experimenting with a range of approaches to drawing and materials to create unusual and unexpected work.  Activities included drawing self-portraits through touch with closed eyes! 

Touch drawing collaborative drawing drawing

Reflecting on their experience, pupils commented:

“I enjoyed drawing the map face because you could draw yourself and add some beautiful patterns.  The hardest one was drawing your own face with closed eyes but I really enjoyed the lesson it was cool and fun.”

– Kim

“I liked how it was quiet and peaceful when we went into all the different rooms.  At the workshop in school I liked that you can make mistakes.”

– Kaiya

“I enjoyed going to the gallery because inside the gallery we got taught new techniques in art.  We also learned about the two artists and we got to do our own versions of their work.”

– Bethlehem

“I like seeing the splat painting because it shode me that you can mack mestacks.  Richod Sererar is like me when it comes to art.”

– Anon 

Painting Performance

drawing workshop drawing workshop dancing drawing workshop

Students from Heronsgate Primary School in south London participated in Painting Performance, an exciting art and curating project, at The Courtauld Gallery during the summer term of 2013. Across 6 sessions delivered in school and at the gallery pupils worked with both an art historian, Meghan Goodeve, and an artist, Ashley Davies to explore the relationship between painting, drawing and performance in innovative and unusual ways.

curating workshop curating workshop curating workshop

The project culminated in an online exhibition curated by the students themselves. After spending a day at the gallery with Meghan Goodeve learning about curating exhibitions the students returned to school where they selected and grouped their artwork into key themes.

view the project's website

Making art History contemporary

Sixth form students from Trinity Catholic High School engaged with art history as a means of investigating both traditional and contemporary art works from The Courtauld Gallery and the Pipilotti Rist Eyeball Massage exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Working on details, scale and the idea of artistic influences, the students went on to create their own creative photographic responses to the exhibitions by creating series of photographs in groups.

rist project documentation 1rist project inspiration 2 rist project doc

view the project's website


For this project we worked with National Diploma art and design students from BSIX Sixth Form College in Hackney. The project was produced in response to the The Courtauld Gallery’s exhibition, FRANK AUERBACH: LONDON BUILDING SITES 1952-62.

Detail of an Auerbach paintingAuerbach drawingAuerbach painting of building site

Led by The Courtauld Gallery Public Programmes team, the students made several visits to the Courtauld exhibition to explore Frank Auerbach’s (born 1931) remarkable group of paintings of London’s post-war building sites. Auerbach was fascinated by the spectacle of the city emerging from the debris of the Second World War and combed London’s numerous building sites with his sketchbook in hand. Back in his studio he used these drawings to create paintings which he worked and re-worked over many months. The result was paintings with thickly built-up surfaces, more than an inch deep, of great energy and visual power.

detail from projectdetail from projectlayering paint

trip to the olympic site trip to the olympic sitea view of the Shard building site

Click on an image to enlarge

Having learnt about the exhibition, the BSIX students visited major building sites across London, producing sketches and gathering source material as Auerbach would have done over 50 years ago. The contemporary building sites the students visited will shape the landscape of London over the coming years and included the Shard building site, located near London Bridge, and the Olympic site in Newham. Over a period of six weeks the students then produced various art works including those displayed here, taking inspiration from the sites they visited and aspects of Auerbach’s creative process, such as the working and re-working of an image to build up layers of information.

images from the cafe exhibition
Images from a display in the Gallery Cafe of works by students from BSIX, made in response to the
Frank Auerbach: London Building Sites 1952-62 exhibition.

To download a copy of the Auerbach Teachers' Resource pack click below


With thanks to the MACE group for their kind assistance with the project.

mace Group logo

The Big o Gallery

A year 5 student committee from the Oasis Academy Shirley Park Primary Phase in south London worked with The Courtauld Institute of Art Public Programme Department during the spring and summer terms of 2011 to put together their own online exhibition.

The Big O exhibitionThe Big O exhibitionThe Big O exhibition

Visit the online exhibition


To accompany the Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 exhibition, The Courtauld Gallery education department worked with year 7 and 8 students from Cumberland School in Newham and artist Gilly Hatch to produce hand printed linen bags that were sold in The Courtauld Gallery shop. All proceeds from the bags were then donated to the art department at Cumberland School.

The Omega Workshops were established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose membersincluded Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group.

Detail of an Omega textile Students visiting the Omega exhibitionDetail of an Omega design

Well ahead of their time, the Omega Workshops brought the experimental language of avant-garde art to domestic design in Edwardian Britain. They were a laboratory of design ideas, creating a range of objects for the home, from rugs and linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing – all boldly coloured with dynamic abstract patterns. No artist was allowed to sign their work, and everything produced by the Workshops bore only Ω (Omega) the last letter in the Greek alphabet.

To download the teachers pack for the exhibition please click below

pdf document Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 Teachers' Resource

The students from Cumberland School visited the exhibition to learn about the Omega Workshops and the ideas the artists involved were exploring. The students then designed abstracted patterns which they cut into lino and printed onto linen bags.

Lino cuttingStudents working on their designsArtist Gilly Hatch demonstrates printing techniques

The students worked in groups of 3 or 4 and all decisions were made collectively. Like the Omega Workshops these bags are also anonymously stamped, however the students bags are stamped with the letter A, the first letter in the western alphabet.

The bags were on sale in The Courtauld Gallery shop for over 3 months and in total raised £300 which was donated to the art department of Cumberland School. Each bag was unique, hand printed and individually numbered.

Image of a linen bag designCanvas bags made for the Omega projectdetail of Omega Project linen bag

Click on image to see an enlargment of the bags.



Animating Art History is a new widening participation partnership between The Courtauld Institute of Art and University of the Arts London. Twenty eight young people aged 16 – 19 took part in the innovative course which combines art history and animation.

Part of the Animating Art History workshopsAn image from the Animating Art History projectan image form the Animating Art History project

Hospital and Special Schools

We also have forged long term links with Hospital and Special Schools, to find out more about the various projects working with hospital and special schools click below:

Hospital and Special School Projects



The Courtauld Cezannes

A poetry project inspired by the Courtauld Cézannes working in conjunction with Ruth Padel, writer in residence at Somerset House and Year 10 students from Cranford Community College, Hounslow.

Ruth Padel and students taking part in the Cezanne workshop

To accompany the Courtauld Cézanne exhibition Year 10 pupils from Cranford Community College visited the gallery and wrote poetry works inspired by paintings in The Courtauld Collection, taking inspiration from the Courtauld Cézanne exhibition and the letters Cézanne wrote to Emile Bernard the students wrote their own letters to paintings from the Courtuald and then based poems upon their thoughts, Ruth encouraged the students to begin their poems with the line “I have come here to this place..”

The students read their poems as a performance to the rest of the group.

The Card Players

I have come here to this timeless, soundless game,
To get away
Silence dominates the room,
Joined by wisdom and tension,
Bonded with the heavy darkness of the bar
And the intensity of the game,
Swirling in an invisible mist
The empty wine bottle stares at the game,
And sits as the equilibrium,
Both hands holding the same amount of cards,
Twenty – six each

A red siren flashes,
Attempting to grab their attention,
Then the night attempts to interrupt
It throws water down,
Banging on the weak windows
Causing the pedestrians to make noise,
But no
They handle their cards carefully and wisely,
Seeming effortless, looking expressionless
Like handling a stack of fifty pound notes,
Paying each other slowly and studying the note carefully
With the occasional glint in their eyes
Of anxiety and excitement
The dream of victory and the dread of defeat
Which will it be?

It has been a long night,
And a long game awaits them

Sobya Shaikh

Llisten to Sobya read a variation of her poem

The Card Players by Paul Cezanne
Inspired by
The Card Players
Paul Cézanne

Listen to Ahmed Gannat read his poem

Lac D'Annecy by Cezanne

Inspired by

Lac D'Annecy


Paul Cézanne

The Autumn affect of Argentile

I have come here to this echoing, silent place,
To get away; from normal life.

The white light shining upon the yellow pains, crystal blue waters,
Heart-warming with every glance,
Unattractive white factories, blackened by flambiont light.

The leaves as yellow as the sun,
Light falls on it like, a ball thrown with rage.

Looking at those beautiful Paines,
Lovely yellow leaves, sending a shiver down my spine,
Enriched by blazing white light,
But ruined by the undestrictive factories,
Shadowing like an indestructible beast upon me,
Beautiful, ugly just the way it is.

Neel Mishra

Autumn Effect at Argenteuil by Claude Monet

Inspired by
Autumn effect at Argenteuil
Claude Monet

Woman at a Window

I have come here to this empty waiting room,
To get away.
The atmospheric room filled with tension and ponder,
Skeleton chair lay unwanted, unnoticed in front of her.
I squint.
Try to solve the blur, it doesn’t clear; who is she?
Is she even there? She could be... She could be a vague figure of my imagination
The sun glares through, judging her as if reading my mind. Judging her existence, her value in life.
Scratched dust marks print the floor.

I wave…weave in front of her.
No change, no reaction just the endless rhythm of her undecided head.
I wave again and again; she continues to snap her head.

Like a lonely woman awaiting her untrustworthy husband;
Like a lonely room seeking life;
Like the spirit of the woman there once was.

Simran Kahlon

Detail of Women at Window by Edgar Degas

Inspired by
Woman at a Window
Edgar Degas

Listen to Cyrus Mwangi read his poem

Detail of Morrocan mounting on Horse by Delacroix

Inspired by
Moroccon mounting on horse
Eugene Delacroix

Find out more about the Courtauld Cézannes exhibition

Ruth Padel was writer in residence at Somerset House 2008/9. To find out more.