Live Export: Lesson 2 Visual Arts, Yr 10

The Power of the Picture

In this lesson, students will investigate the power of art to spark social discussion and enact change. Through an analysis of four prominent artworks, students will investigate how sheep have been portrayed and represented through the ages, from early religious Dutch works, to 21st Century installations. Students will be asked to reflect on the treatment of sheep within the live export industry and consider how they have been represented visually within the Voiceless resources. This lesson involves visual and critical analysis in addition to a practical task.

Time Allocation

50-100 minutes (excluding time spent creating final artworks)

Voiceless Resources

Other Resources

Inquiry Questions

  • Can art be used to spark social discussion and/or enact change?
  • In what ways have sheep been represented throughout the ages?
  • How do we view sheep in the 21st Century, and within the live export industry?

Suggested Learning Activities


Pair-share or class discussion:

  • Discuss the symbolic value of animals. For example, owls are considered keepers of knowledge or wisdom, and black cats are associated with superstition. Some animals have multiple symbolic values, such as ravens who are associated with the ideas of both loss and insight. Meaning and symbolism vary across time, culture, mythology, spirituality and religion. Can you list a few?
  • Do you know any specific artists who use animals as their key subject matter?
  • How do you view sheep and cows/cattle? For you, what do they represent or symbolise?


a) Students take the time to read through the Voiceless Fact Sheet, Across Land and Sea: Live Export Explained and watch the Voiceless film: Live Animal Export Explained.

b) Analysing Art

Students will examine the works of four prominent artists through the ages.

  1. Divide the class into small groups of 3-4. Ideally, each group will have a printed copy of the artworks listed above.
  2. Visual deconstruction. In this task, students are asked to discuss and annotate each artwork. Considering, but not limited to:
    • Colour – shape – light – texture;
    • Mood;
    • Symbolism / Iconography;
    • Scale;
    • Composition;
    • Style and modality;
    • Medium/s.
  3. In each work, what is going on, or happening?
  4. The prominent subject matter in all works is a sheep/lamb. How does the artist present the sheep/lamb to the viewer?
  5. How does each artwork make you feel?
  6. Consider the titles – how do they contribute to your understanding of the works?
  7. In each work, what do you think the artist is trying to say or represent?
  8. How might these artworks have been received (by the general public) at their time of creation? Do you think they may have sparked social discussion or change? Why/why not?
  9. Now, give the students some time to explore the websites of each artist/work.

Teacher Tip Icon

  • Where possible, print copies of the artworks and stick these on large sheets of paper – leaving enough space around the outside for notes.


Refer students back to the Voiceless Fact Sheet – Across Land and Sea: Live Export Explained  and ask them to locate the various images of sheep, both photographs and illustrations, including the front cover.

Pair – Share: Critical Thinking Questions

Students respond to the following questions with a partner:

  • What do you notice about these images? Using some of the questions from the previous task may be helpful prompts for discussion.
  • Do these images accurately portray the experience of sheep within the live export industry? Why/Why not?


Artwork Creation

Students reflect on what they have learnt about the experiences of sheep within the live export industry, in addition to how they have been represented in the artworks of Dali, Hurst, Schenck, and the Van Eyck brothers.

In light of all they have read and discussed, students now create their own representation of a sheep/s, or another exported animal of their choice. Encourage them to think about what message or intention they would like to convey through their work and how this will be achieved.

They may like to focus on portraiture and aim to depict an animal’s story by considering the idiom: ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’.

Or, students may choose to use an artist model and pay homage to one of the artists studied in this lesson.


  • Throughout the ages, sheep have been used by humans to represent a myriad of ideas, symbols, concepts, and much more.
  • Students write a short paragraph which explains the different ways sheep have been represented artistically throughout the ages. In their answer they should refer to at least one artwork and one fact or image from the Voiceless Fact Sheet.


Voiceless would be delighted to receive any completed student work to feature on the Voiceless website (student and parental consent required). Please email any work or feedback to

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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