George Bissill - Miner, Soldier and Artist

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links: 

KS2 Art & Design – Portraits – Painting; Skills - Artists
KS3 Art & Design - Artists; Painting; Life Events – Issues based art
KS2 – History – Historical enquiry, local study, First world war and Remembrance Day
KS3 – History – WW1 – Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day

Aims of resource:

To explore the life of George Bissill and the role of coal miners and the tunnelling companies of the Royal Engineers during the First World War.

Learning objectives: 

Knowledge of George Bissill’s development as an artist and the coal mining industry
Understanding of the varied roles within the First World War and the influence of the conflict on artists’ work
Skills to interpret and respond to artwork creatively  

Discussion ideas: 

  • Use your imagination to think about what working underground in a coal mine might feel like?
  • Why do you think George Bissill became afraid of being underground?
  • How do you think George felt working in the tunnels under the trenches, in great danger?
  • Look at the painting, ‘Miners’. Can you describe all that you can see in the painting? 
  • Why do you think George Bissill painted the miners at work underground?
  • How do you think the men shown in the painting are feeling?
  • Can you find any aspect of the picture that might reflect how Bissill felt about being underground?

Activity ideas:

  • Art & Design: Draw or paint a fear that you or someone else may have, in the style of a George Bissill painting. Think about the features of Bissill's work, for instance:
     - The colours that he used
     - The effect and use of shadowing
     - The lines he painted, are they thin or thick?
  • Create a biographical timeline: Write a timeline of George Bissill’s life including the significant points of his life. Write why they were significant to him and how they affected his life.

  • Creative writing: Research what life was like in the trench tunnels during the First World War. What sort of problems might tunnellers like George Bissill have encountered? Use the information you’ve found to produce a creative response. This could be a painting, a poem, piece of writing or even a scene for a play.

    Think about:
    - How your characters feel about working in the mines?
    - What can they see, smell, taste, and touch?
    - What type of work did the miners do? 

View other relevant WWI My Learning resources or scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.




 
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