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Angel of the Annunciation by Colin McCahon

Episode:10Te Papa Collection:Art and Photography

Suggested curriculum levels:4 – 6

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, The Arts: Developing Ideas Communicating and Interpreting, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation

Description:Colin McCahon is perhaps our most famous artist. Riria Hotere learns about the inspiration of a New Zealand angel, and other artistic treasures.

Questions for students

  1. Why did Colin McCahon show Bible stories in a New Zealand setting? How are angels usually portrayed in religious art?
  2. Why do you think McCahon used speech bubbles in so many of his art works? Do you know of any other artists who use comic-book features in their work? What is the impact of using these in serious paintings?
  3. In the Tale, McCahon's paintings are referred to as, 'graffiti for the walls of some celestial lavatory.' Do you think this is complimentary or not? How would you critique McCahon's work?
  4. 'McCahon's paintings are considered national treasures, an important part of New Zealand's own art tradition.' Do you agree with this statement? How can art reflect or illustrate a country's identity or culture?
  5. What did you already know about McCahon? What new things have you learned from this Tale? What else would you like to find out about the painter, his art or critics' responses to his art? Use the 'Key questions' response template to record specific questions and make notes as you search for answers using this and other sources.

Related templates:

Key questions