Visual Diary Guides - Book Review

Term: 4 Term Year: 2015

Mention the words Visual Diary to art teachers and there is an immediate response that suggests they know what you’re talking about! It’s one of those terms that is accepted without too much thought or question.

Sure, Visual means it has something to do with what can be seen; and, Diary means something to do with recording what has happened or what is planned to happen. Easy! Or is it?

When so many Visual Arts courses require students to maintain and present Visual Diaries for assessment purposes, then much more is needed to meet the requirements and obligations expected. If you’ve ever had students who find it difficult to generate ideas beyond simple interpretations; have students who have too many unused pages at the end of a semester, or students who have work pages that are the same as most other students, then help is required, and at hand.

A new package, titled Visual Diary Guide (a version for students and an edition for teachers) has been prepared by Hilary Senhanli (Art Teacher, Artist and Art Consultant) to assist art teachers and students to get a real handle on Visual Diaries. It makes clear the reality that Visual Diaries are far more complex than often thought. It outlines things that need to be included and many exciting potential ideas that students can explore both in class and at home. Most importantly it underlies the belief that students at all levels need to be involved in using their Visual Diaries positively in the present, but also as a means of developing  thinking and working processes that make everything so much more valuable and individual in future years.

The student version is centred around a series of 46 consequentially planned and related activities and some excellent case studies. These could be used by teachers to form the basis of their programme, or as idea-prompters that students can undertake as required. The demonstration and example material is of excellent quality and can be effectively used to inspire and motivate students. Like all good activities, most are not age-specific although the first series has been specifically produced for Years 7 and 8.  They can be interpreted appropriately by students working earlier in their art education and later in the senior levels. The teacher edition outlines everything required about the how and why of using Visual Diaries. It provides the basis for planning and evaluating activities and the use of Visual Diaries in class and at home.

The exciting prospect of enabling each student to have their personal copy of the Visual Diary Guide seems the best way to make full use of the enormous range of exciting research-based Visual Diary activities provided. Hilary is available to visit your school to introduce the package of support materials or to talk to you about its use. Regardless of your experience the Visual Diary Guide is a publication you need to check out. I have and wish I’d had it years ago.

Dr Max Darby
Arts Education Consultant

Supporting teachers in creative education
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