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Art theme: landscapes

The term 'landscape' is broad and encompasses seascapes, cityscapes and townscapes too. Historically, landscape painting has been associated with scenes of the natural world. Sometimes the landscape depicted contains no figures or shows human activity as secondary to the environment. The category has become looser over time and representation can range from accurate depictions of the area to much more abstracted depictions of the land and sea.

Contextual background for teachers

Arrangement in Turquoise and Cream (1979–1981)
David Hepher (b. 1935)

Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: H 193 x W 275 cm

The artist describes himself as a landscape painter although we could describe this as an urban cityscape. David Hepher is interested in depicting relatable housing in a modern and documentary style. He describes blocks like these as impressive – everyday local housing interests him in the same way as grand country houses interested artists of the past. Does the artist indicate their architectural worthiness in the way the building fills the composition?

The word 'arrangement' in the title seems to indicate an emphasis on composition. The flats look very modular and the repetition of geometric shapes makes them appear quite rhythmic and homogeneous. Does this regularity affect our view of the lives of the people who live here?

The block looms over us from a low viewpoint and extends beyond the picture's plane at the top to appear neverending. Does the scale of the building make it look powerful and dignified or machine-made and intimidating? What signs of individuality and decoration can you see?

Look, describe and discuss

Open a full-screen version of the zoomable image in a new window.

Ask your students to describe the artwork, encouraging them to simply say what they can see.

You can start by showing the whole image, and then use the zoom feature to explore details of the painting. Or you might like to start by using the zoom feature to show a detail from the image, and then zoom out to see more.

Encourage your students to look carefully – this is their superpower! It's best to not give too much background information about the artwork at this stage, so students can develop their own ideas and opinions.

Nudge questions

Now when looking at the painting, ask more specific ('nudge') questions:

  • How many separate buildings are there? What type of buildings are they?
  • If you were transported into this scene, where might you be standing to have this specific viewpoint?
  • What's the weather like in this scene? How do you know?
  • Is this painting more about the architecture or the people who live within it? Do we need to see people for a work to be about people?

Questions from The Superpower of Looking Kit

Now we can start to explore the 'elements' of the painting.

Use The Superpower of Looking Kit to ask questions about the artwork.

For this artwork, you will focus on:

Ask your students to evidence their points:

  • where exactly are they looking when they make a statement?
  • can everybody see what they see?
  • slow down, take time to really look closely

You may like to introduce knowledge from the contextual background for teachers at this point.

Everyone learning

You can find out more about The Superpower of Looking® SEND/ASD/ALN approach on the Superpower homepage.

Now it's time to explore the artwork in different ways. This list of sensory activities encourages students to apply their learning and can suit a variety of learning needs.




  • Listen to Ludovico Einaudi's piano piece I Giorni (2001). This music uses repeated notes, like the repeated frames and shapes in the painting. The piece tells a story. What do students think the story might be about? What stories can they imagine about the people living in the flats?



  • Find and feel textures from the building – glass, metal, concrete – or the fabrics of the blinds and curtains – lace, silk, cotton and wool.



  • Role play a story, imagining you live in one of these flats. Students could build different family groups and develop a story where neighbours interact.



  • Create a spoken soundscape, imagining you are standing just outside the flats. What noises and conversations can you hear?
  • Learn the Makaton sign or British Sign Language for 'home'.

Final stage: review

Ask your students to:

  • share their sketchbooks in groups and discuss the 'elements' they have identified
  • choose an element/aspect they find most interesting about the artwork and record it in their sketchbooks
  • choose their own name/s for the title of the artwork
  • think of a question they would like to ask the artist



You have now completed this lesson resource on The Superpower of Looking.

There are more resources in this theme to try – have a look at the 'next lessons' section below.

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