Penelope with the Suitors

Hunwick Primary School took part in a whole school Art and Design Week, based on The National Gallery's Take One Picture Project. This year, we studied 'Penelope with the Suitors'. The children relished the opportunity to take part in a number of creative activities, many of which were cross-curricular.

Harrison: “The most exciting and fun set of lessons ever! Moreover, it's all based around one painting!”

Molly: “I loved having the opportunity to explore and learn new art techniques such as scraffito.”

Penelope with the Suitors


Reception looked at the story of Penelope with the Suitors and discussed the images they could see. The children talked about the pirate ship, the cat, the bird, the lady in the blue dress and the man wearing the blue boots. The children were then challenged to paint one of these images.

Penelope with the SuitorsPenelope with the Suitors

Year 1

During Take One Picture Week, Year 1 explored the painting 'Penelope with the Suitors'. They talked about what they could see and noticed that Penelope was weaving. We learnt about weaving and what a loom is. We made our own looms and created colourful patterns using paper.

After that, we looked briefly at Homer's Odyssey, the story which the painter took inspiration from. The children were very interested in the nymphs and designed their own. They then wrote descriptive sentences to describe these.

Penelope with the SuitorsPenelope with the Suitors

Year 2

Year 2 looked at the story of Penelope with the Suitors and discussed what images they could see. The children generated four questions each they would like to ask the main character in the painting. We talked about the loom in the centre of the painting and how it is used. The children then used wool to weave and create their own masterpiece.

We then discussed and explored the different media that could be used to recreate 'Penelope with the suitors'. After much discussion about the colours, tone and details needed to produce an accurate reproduction, we did our very best to recreate the fresco.

Year 3

We pieced the picture together like a jigsaw, looking for colour and shape to help us put the pieces in the correct place. We then looked at the picture in detail. What did it depict? Who were these people? Did they have a story to tell?

We enjoyed story telling so much that we chose one part within the picture and wrote a story about it. This could be a person, object or animal. We used teabags to create older looking paper. Everyone shared their stories in front of the picture and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to everyone's different view on the picture.

Year 4

Year 4 were inspired by the loom in the painting. After learning about weaving techniques, the children created their own looms and decorated these with stitching techniques.

Year 5

After looking at Pinturicchio's portrayal of Penelope with the Suitors, Year 5 focussed on the loom that she was using and the weaving that she was adamant she'd finish before deciding upon a lover. Linking this art project with our geography topic on Italy, we discovered that the artist had been born in Siena. As a result, we were inspired to use a weaving frame in the shape of Italy and weave in different materials using the colours of the Italian flag. However, it felt appropriate to leave our work 'unfinished' as a poignant reference to Penelope's deliberate decision to unpick some of her weaving every evening so that her promise to the gentlemen would be unfulfilled.

Year 6

Year 6 looked at the story of Odysseus portrayed in the painting and in Literacy, studied his long journey home after the Trojan War and the many adventures and events which befell him. We wrote diaries in role as Odysseus and as the cyclops in one of these stories.

In art, we looked at Greek ceramics and studied the paintings on these and what they could tell us about Greek history. We used scraffito techniques in our sketchbooks to study designs and techniques used on Greek pottery. We then created our own 3-D pots and decorated these. Some pupils decided to portray an aspect from one of Odysseus' many adventures.


Published on Thursday 16 November 2017 by Mr M Hall.