Claire Collison / Visual Literacy activities / Westminster Academy

Activity: Diptychs – When 2 Becomes 1

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This activity is designed to explore reading images as a pair. Students are focusing on Peter Abrahams for a course module (three of his photographic diptychs are currently on loan to the school). We began by looking at the origin of diptychs from church iconography, and discussed examples of diptychs from other types of photographic projects: what happens when two disparate photos are displayed together? We used students’ photographs from previous sessions – some had originally been taken during a gallery visit; others had been produced for an assignment on ‘time and place’.


How to:

Students are asked to create pairings from their stock of photographs, thinking about combining them so that they work together in a new way. Discuss these new combinations: what makes them work as a pair? It might be the content, creating a new narrative, or the colour or pattern. Finish by documenting these new pairings, and coming up with titles for them.

Outcomes/ Learning objectives:

This is a useful activity in helping students consider composition and context. Their original impetus for taking a photograph might well have been because of its content, or the subject they had been asked to respond to. This activity enables them to revisit their own photos, and look at them more objectively. They begin to see the possibilities of different pairings. This introduces the idea that photographs can be revisited, and that ‘meaning’ in a photograph can be fluid. You will need: Prints of student photographs – A4 works well, but smaller would also work. If students have produced photographs from a range of assignments, explore mixing these up.


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