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Virtues in Art

As a huge fan of the work of Damien Hirst, I was thrilled to learn of his new series of paintings entitled The Virtues. The eight prints are each titled after one of The Eight Virtues of Bushidō according to Nitobe Inazō – justice, courage, mercy, politeness, honesty, honour, loyalty, and control. I was intrigued to find out more and upon further research, realised their potential use in the classroom to support our work on Character Education and our work on Virtues.

Damien Hirst said “Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. Blossoms are optimistic and bright yet fragile, just like we are and I hope that The Virtues can remind us to always try and get the most from life.” (Source Heni).

The first stage of the class project involved us exploring the paintings and determining which of the eight virtues matched each painting. This led to some fascinating discussion and interpretation from our pupils and it was interesting to compare our thoughts, ideas and reflections when the actual title of each painting was revealed.

The next stage involved the pupils discussing each of the virtues and creating their own definitions and personal reflections on what each virtue meant to them. They were also discussed in relation to our School’s Virtues and whether they were Intellectual, Moral, Performance or Civic Virtues. The pupils’ reflections were then shared and placed on display with the paintings (view display here).

This small project was a joy to be involved with and led to some superb discussion and insight into character and virtues and their vital importance in helping individuals and society to flourish.

Mr Cobane, UoB School Subject Teacher.

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