Interpreting art – Part 3 – Graffiti art

Students investigate the meaning of graffiti art through a study of online curation.

Students are initiated into the practice of art historical and critical studies through exploration of the relevance and significance of their links to learning relating cultural context to meaning and change created through the art world.


  • 4.7 explores aspects of practice in critical and historical interpretations of art.
  • 4.8 explores the function of and relationships between the artist - artwork - world - audience.
  • 4.9 begins to acknowledge that art can be interpreted from different points of view.
  • 4.10 recognises that art criticism and art history construct meanings.
  • 5.7 applies their understanding of aspects of practice to critical and historical interpretations of art.
  • 5.8 uses their understanding of the function of and relationships between artist - artwork - world - audience in critical and historical interpretations of art.
  • 5.9 demonstrates how the frames provide different interpretations of art.
  • 5.10 demonstrates how art criticism and art history construct meanings.


3 weeks.

Driving question

When does graffiti become art?


By examining contemporary graffiti art, students will engage with aspects of the conceptual framework and the frames. Students will recognise the significance and relevance of art making within their day to day lives as an advocate for change.

  • Literacy
  • Civics and citizenship
  • Information and communication technology
  • Difference and diversity.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Students will:

  • view The joy of not being sold anything as a stimulus for a debate/ discussion as a class. Ask:
    • is this artwork? Moreover, what form does it represent? (performance art? Environmental art? Drawing? Painting?) Why/ why not? Discuss/ debate the above issues within the class to stimulate discussion.
    • What are the intentions behind the artwork? What does it mean? What is the subject matter? Discuss.
    • What is the most recent activity you can find on Banksy? Research the internet to see where Banksy has most recently produced work.
  • plot the work of Banksy on a global map. Get students to investigate his contemporary practice by collecting images from across the globe. Pin the art locations to a map similarly to the website The Banksy tour.
  • create a presentation to share with the class addressing his access to an audience internationally.
  • create a pinterest page constructed of images from around the globe of Banksy's work. Attach articles describing the artworks and write blog as seen in the examples below.
  • Most iconic examples of Banksy street art
  • Banksy in NYC
  • Students will:
    • discuss the online audience and exposure to his work through this media
    • create a series of #hashtags that utilise metalanguage related to the artist Banksy that could be used to search his work.

Students are to explore the driving question through critical analysis of performance art.

Students will:

  • explore Banksy by answering the question: how does the media portray Banksy?

Historical texts use objective language in contrast to critical texts that show bias through subjective language.

  • construct a table of two columns to identify and define the language features used in the blog posts above. For example:
Objective language Subjective language
Insert text Insert text
  • question: is this a 'historical' text or a 'critical' text? Justify the answer using the examples found in the table above.

Art historical and critical studies do not have to be written texts.

Students will:

  • analyse the script Banksy, da vinci, and the art of protest. Engage with the text and content by answering in their process diaries:
    • What is the intention of this critical study?
    • How does the audience engage with the text?
  • study the basic conventions of script writing. Write a documentary about Banksy. Using your script:
    • examine and identify any language forms and features.
    • create a Storyboard for your script. Consider camera angles, shots, effects and transitions.
    • use a device to construct a film documentary. In preparation for this, timeline filming to organise shots for further editing using movie making software such as iMovie or Moviemaker.

Written responses are documented and shared within collaborative discussion facilitated by the teacher.

Students are to:

  • document the process of their artmaking within a journal. This can be their visual arts process diary, or an online blog through sites such as Google classroom.
  • photograph or sketch the process used
  • write a response to the process used following literacy structures, language forms and features, as seen in the DoE text type support document.



Students could:

  • explore the driving question by creating a mind map about current politics and agenda for media bias. They are to view the contemporary interactive work of Les Miserables by Banksy and use it as a stimulus to present a response.
  • write a newspaper article about the political meaning behind one of Banksy's artworks.

Life skills


  • LS 5 recognises that various interpretations of artworks are possible.

Students could:

  • cut and paste their favourite Banksy artworks into a word document
  • write a short explanation of what artwork is their favourite and why
  • using photoshop, change an image using the style stencil settings similar to Banksy.


Feedback is formative for the duration of the project.


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Visual Arts 7–10 Syllabus (2003) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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