by Joanne O’Malley
The 2019 Art exam was a well-rounded, fair paper which offered a good choice to students.
In Section I (Art in Ireland) students were asked to discuss two Irish Stone Age monuments. This allowed students to discuss Newgrange passage grave. With the recent archaeological discoveries in the Boyne Valley during the 2018 summer heat wave, the Stone Age was a good bet for the Pre-Christian Ireland section. Students would have performed well in this section.
In Section II of the paper (European Art) students were tested on their ability to apply relevant knowledge to a previously unseen painting. Lesser known paintings by Edgar Degas and Henri Matisse were given to students and they were asked to describe the paintings in terms of “subject matter, composition, colour, style and techniques”. These questions challenged students to both visually analyse on the spot and apply relevant prerequisite knowledge in order to gain maximum marks. The second part of these questions asked students to “describe and discuss one other named work” by the same painter. This was an excellent opportunity to really show off knowledge on pre-learned paintings.
A lovely question on Cubism also featured in the European section asking about the development and characteristics of Cubism as well as a named work by a named artist. This gave students a chance to write about Pablo Picasso or George Braque.
Section III (Appreciation of Art) featured the ever popular Gallery question. This question was very nice and straight forward. The question asked about the display of work, to discuss two named paintings and to offer ideas on “how Art Galleries can better interact with the public”. All of these topics have been seen in previous years and would have caused no difficulties to most students.
Overall this was a fair and balanced paper allowing students a chance to really demonstrate the hard work carried out in the last two years.