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Howard Arkley

Questions and Activities

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Exploring the exhibition

The following questions are suggested as starting points for exploring the exhibition with students. Teachers are encouraged to edit/adapt the questions to suit the interests and experiences of their students.

Icon: Primary

For Primary schools

Exploring subject matter

Make a list of the different subjects that Arkley includes in his artworks. What do you think he found interesting about each of these subjects?

Look at the many different paintings of houses. What aspects of these houses do you think Arkley is most interested in? Why does he not paint back yards, and why does he not include people in these paintings?

Of all the different places that Arkley describes in his paintings, where would you most like to live and why?

Exploring art elements

Which artwork in the exhibition do you think has:

  • The most interesting colours.
    Describe the colours and why you think they are interesting.
  • The most interesting lines.
    Describe the lines and why you think they are interesting.
  • The most interesting shapes.
    Describe the shapes and why you think they are interesting.
  • The most interesting pattern?
    Describe the pattern and why you think they are interesting.

Exploring art materials and techniques

Arkley used many different materials and techniques to make his art. Find an example of:

  • A painting made with an airbrush.
    Explain how marks made with an airbrush differ from the marks made with a traditional paintbrush.
  • A painting made using a stencil.
    Describe the effect the artist has created using a stencil.
  • A three dimensional work.
    What materials has the artist used and how, to make this artwork? How is this work similar to or different from the artist’s two–dimensional artworks?
  • An artwork made with another artist.
    What clues can you find that Arkley might have made this with another artist? Why might Arkley have enjoyed doing projects with another artist?

Exploring Primitive 1981

Find the large painting Primitive 1981. This was a very important painting for Arkley. He explored many new ideas in this painting.

  • How do you think he made this painting (consider materials and techniques)?
  • What can you see in the painting?
  • What might have influenced how this painting was made and what it is about?
  • How does Primitive compare with the artworks made before 1981?
  • How does Primitive compare with the artworks made after 1981?
  • Why do you think Primitive was such an important painting for the artist?

Exploring other ideas

Find an artwork in the exhibition that:

  • Is very large.
    Why might the artist have made this artwork so large?
  • Is very detailed.
    List some of the details you can see. Suggest why the artist might have included a lot of detail in this artwork.
  • Reminds you of something you have seen.
    What is it that seems familiar to you about this image?
  • Is very like another artwork in the exhibition.
    What other artwork is it like and how?
  • Is very surprising.
    What is it about this artwork that surprises you?
  • Is your favourite
    Why is this work your favourite?


NGV: Art like never before