Year 5 Shell Paintings


As part of their study of ‘Kensuke’s Kingdom’ by Michael Morpurgo the Year 5s have been trying to imagine the lives of Kensuke & Michael on the island and how the characters would have felt.

One of the things that creates a great bond between the two of them is shell painting:

“On the table in front of him he put out three saucers: one saucer of octopus ink, one saucer for water and another for mixing. He always held his brush very upright and very steady in his hand, fingers down one side, thumb on the other….I could watch him for hours on end, marvelling at the delicacy of his work, at the sureness of his touch.

I had always like to draw, but from Kensuke I learned to love it, that to draw or paint I first had to observe well, then set out the form of the picture in my head and send it down my arm through the tip of the brush on to the shell. He taught me all this entirely without speaking. He simply showed me.” 

With these observations from Michael in mind, the children made their own shells from papier-mâché and the painted images of cherry blossom, gibbons, Mount Fuji, fish, all inspired by actual Japanese ink paintings and of subjects painted by Michael and Kensuke in the book. The classroom was absolutely silent (bar some traditional Japanese music in the background) as the children painted – their focus was amazing!

You can see photos of their finished shells below – the actual ones have been sent home today.

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