The Collection is for everyone. Come and explore artists, artworks and themes - be creative with your learning

  • students in a classroom taking part in a workshop

    Mission Grove Primary School workshop for Waltham Forest, London Borough of Culture, 2019

  • students making a mural in a school

    Mural design at Lammas School & Sixth Form for Waltham Forest, London Borough of Culture, 2019 © Daniel Booth

  • An artist chatting to a child in a schoolroom

    Artist David Leapman at Mission Grove Primary School during Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture

    Welcome to ArtSpark, our learning resource

    ArtSpark is a series of learning resources that bring you closer to artworks in the Collection.

    Age is no limit – there are activities and ideas for children and adults. Try them by yourself, or with family and friends. Teachers, educators and homeschoolers will find plenty of ideas and inspiration to support classroom, home and online learning.

    Free to download, the first in the series focus on four artworks, each one packed with actions and thoughts to ignite your thinking, creativity and imagination.

    Start exploring!

    The earliest work by a woman in the Collection

    Joan Carlile’s Portrait of a Lady wearing an Oyster Satin Dress c.1650 is the earliest work by a woman in the Collection. Discover the story of the portrait and its artist. Create a miniature or be a bowerbird…

    painting of a young woman in a satin dress

    © image: Crown Copyright

    Download ArtSpark resource on Joan Carlile – Adobe Acrobat PDF format, 1.7mb

    The oldest work in the Collection

    The oldest work in the Collection is King Henry VIII c.1527-50, a painting by an Unknown Anglo-Flemish Artist. What can self-portraits tell us? What links Henry VIII to Stormzy?

    painting of a man, head turned to the left, in Tudor costume

    © image: Crown Copyright

    Download ArtSpark resource on HenryVIII – Adobe Acrobat PDF format, 653kb

    The first video work bought for the Collection

    What is the story behind Gillian Wearing’s 1994 video work Dancing in Peckham? Make some moves of your own, or try making your own film.

    Six video stills showing a woman dancing in a shopping centre

    © Gillian Wearing courtesy Maureen Paley, London / image: Crown Copyright

    Download ArtSpark resource on Gillian Wearing – Adobe Acrobat PDF format, 1.1mb

    The earliest sculpture by a Black British artist

    Male Standing Figure – The Priest, 1939, is by Black British artist, Ronald Moody. Hear about this sculpture’s amazing journey around the world. Have a go at making a Storm Creature or a Mythical Bird.

    Wooden sculpture of a male figure

    © Estate of the Artist / image: Crown Copyright

    Download ArtSpark resource on Ronald Moody – Adobe Acrobat PDF format, 891kb

    Tips for getting started...

    ArtSpark was commissioned from Claire Collison, a writer, artist and educator, working in collaboration with Chantal Condron, Curator of Public Engagement. Both are passionate about using art to inspire, here are some ways to get started:

    Just look When presented with an artwork you’ve never seen before, it’s only natural to feel you need to learn all about it – but there’s a lot to be gained from just looking. Give it a go for 10 minutes, just look.

    There’s no right answer! Facts have their place, but so do feelings, and one of the most valuable things about art is it gives us space to play, explore, and feel. Anything you think about the artwork, and the words you use to talk about it, it’s all good.

    Explore Bursting with information, each resource kicks off with 10 facts but you don’t have to become an expert! Jump straight in and see what grabs your attention.

    Look out for the CLOCK – these indicate 10-minute activities which are great for young children or if you’re just stuck for time and have few materials to hand.

    The resources are available below in Adobe Acrobat format. The content is royalty free, all we ask is that the artists and the Government Art Collection are credited where appropriate.

    Watch this space for more ArtSparks in the future…


    ArtSpark was commissioned from Claire Collison, an award-winning artist, writer and educator. She has taught visual literacy for The Photographers’ Gallery; created resources at Kettle’s Yard for MaxLiteracy; and in 2019, invented ways for the residents of Waltham Forest to engage with 68 artworks from the Government Art Collection displayed in public spaces across the Borough as part of ‘Ways of Seeing’.

    ‘It’s been a such a pleasure creating these resources – and I’ve learned so much! I hope there’s something here for everyone.’ Claire Collison


    Design by Miranda Isaac of MI Design