The Portrayal of Women in Art & the Media

By The Arty Teacher - January 31, 2018

This outstanding unit of work was completed by Eleanor (Age 15).  It started with the artist Adele Carney visiting the school and working with Year 10 for a full day.  The pupils were really inspired by her work which broached controversial issues such as anorexia, body image and obsessive exercising.

Eleanor started in her sketchbook by looking at a range of artists who have dealt with this issue. (Above)

Next, she created two sketchbook pages which showed Carney’s sketchbook work and a ‘final piece’ which was an embroidered body bag.  Eleanor wrote about her experience of the day.

She went on to experiment with different media using an image of an anorexic woman that she had found on the internet.  I like the way she stuck in the pieces of paper where she tested her colours which shows great experimenting.


Eleanor experimented with stitching into work which reflected Carney’s work.  She used fine cotton which created tiny detailed stitching.

The following images show different images that Eleanor stitched into.

After a few weeks of working on individual work Eleanor and her peers arrived at a lesson and were asked to complete some very quick sketches of images that were flashed up on a screen.  The images were shown for between 30 seconds and 3 minutes.   They were of anorexic women, skeletons and Carneys work.  Pupils were asked to look at the screen only and not their work which encourage fluid lines and mark making – very tricky!  All pupils chose the best images to put in their sketchbook.  These were Eleanors.

Eleanor then chose to look at Jenny Saville’s work.

She then went on to create the following artists’ analysis.

Developing her work further Eleanor tried working in Saville’s style on a sporting image.

Combining one of Carney’s images with Saville’s style was a great idea. (Below)

Photographing herself from Saville inspired perspectives, Eleanor made her project more personal.

Taking influence from Carney’s work Eleanor experimented with different ways of working with text and painting into text.

Working with new photos Eleanor created ideas for a ‘Final Piece’.

Eleanor looked at how she could combine stitch with her painted work.

Reflecting on her day with Carney, Eleanor was inspired by how Carney had used Barbie dolls as a negative role model for children and women in her work.  Eleanor chose to paint on Barbie Dolls and came up with these ideas in her sketchbook.

Eleanor painted on real Barbie dolls in very macabre ways and to great effect.

For her final outcome Eleanor chose, appropriately, to paint on mirror (see below).   Stitiching into small pieces of paper Eleanor was able to incorporate elements of Carney’s work with Savilles.  The Barbie dolls were displayed hanging in front of the mirror in her exhibition.  This was very difficult to photograph!

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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6 responses to “The Portrayal of Women in Art & the Media”

  1. Kirsten says:

    What a complex and thoughtful body of work, and at 15!

  2. Rosie Brown says:

    Yep, truly inspirational work, personal, full of creative and meaningful content! Worthy of the higher mark bands!

  3. marlee says:

    These where inspiring.

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