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Maths: Public Art

For Sey Stage 3

Students will develop an understanding of  how maths is used in a public art commission before developing their own public art proposals for their school.

Led by Gillian Brent

Select from one or two workshops at school and a gallery visit led by artist Gillian Brent. Gillian is a sculptor who uses geometry and a variety of measuring and scaling strategies in the construction and realisation of her works for galleries and for the public realm.

Take back to school

  • After 3 workshops, students will respond to a public art brief to create a 3D sculpture / model
  • On completing 3 workshops, your class will receive a certificate of achievement to display at school


  • Wakefield Schools: £130 for a one off workshop at the gallery or £650 for three workshops (two at school and one at the gallery)
  • Other Schools: £150 for a one off workshop at the gallery or £700 for three workshops (two at school and one at the gallery)

Book this workshop

Learning outcomes and curriculum impact

Maths (Geometry and Measurement)

  • Level 2: Understand mathematical names for common 2D and 3D shapes; identify the number of sides and corners of specific shapes and the mathematical terms used for particular angles
  • Level 3: Classify 3D and 2D shapes in various ways using mathematical properties such as reflective symmetry for 2-D shapes
  • Level 4: Make 3D models by linking the edges of 2D shapes; make simple measuring instruments to estimate and measure the perimeter of shapes
  • Level 5: Estimate lengths. Convert one metric unit to another. Calculate unknown angles in triangles and at a point. Describe angles in correct terms
  • Level 6: Calculate the area and circumference of circles. Use 2D representation of 3D shapes. Enlarge shapes using a scale factor.
    Find the area of 2D shapes. Calculate the volume of 3D shapes

Art and Design

  • First-hand observation of Barbara Hepworth’s artworks
  • Understand and experience the public art commissioning process
  • Explore ideas and imagination using experience of learning outside of the classroom
  • Develop understanding of contemporary sculpture, artistic process and materials
  • Develop drawing techniques and sculpture making skills using a range of techniques and media

Public Art Session Outline

Workshop 1 at school
– 2 hours

Artist Gillian Brent will introduce the students to public art and working in small teams they will explore the roles involved within a public art commission.

Students will experiment with scale and 3D construction of geometric and non-geometric shapes by making their own large-scale sculptures.

The students are presented with a simple brief where they will look at potential spaces within school for an artwork to live. Students will measure and record the space using a range of methods. Each group will produce a model of their proposed sculpture.

Workshop 2 at the gallery
– 2 hours

Students will work in Gallery 5 to consider scale within the artworks by using fractions and percentages.

Students will then research Hepworth’s process and approach to her commission with John Lewis in 1961. Exploring through drawing and wire, students will develop their own artwork as well as learning about the casting process in Gallery 4.

Finally, students will revisit their own public art brief created at school to refine and reconsider materials, process, scale and costs. The workshop will end with a vote on which two models to present back at school.

Workshop 3 at school
– 2 hours

The students will devise a system of collecting and collating data from the school community to gather feedback and select which model is favourite.

The students will collate the data gathered and create a presentation about the final selected sculpture.

How can teachers and group leaders help?

Please bring your enthusiasm, be prepared to join in and model good behaviour.

To support activity in the galleries please remind children about our three rules

  • no shouting
  • no touching
  • no running