Materials 2D – KS3 art & design

Title: Swimmers
Artist: Ivy Smith
Location: Corridor outside Amesbury Ward, Level 4, Phase II building
Material: Oil on canvas
Acquired: 2007



Ivy’s painting was commissioned for the Orthopaedics Department located in the new extension at Salisbury District Hospital. The painting, funded by Arts Council South West, captures the movement of four swimmers in a pool. Ivy Smith is one of East Anglia’s most acclaimed painters. She received her art education at Walthamstow School of Art, Central School of Arts and Crafts, Chelsea School of Art and Royal Academy  Schools, all in London. As well as single portraits of men, women and children, Ivy Smith has particular experience in double and group portraits, and in working on a very large scale. Ivy has previously been commissioned to create works for arts in health settings including Battle Hospital Reading, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health. Her double portrait of Sir Richard and Sir David Attenborough can be seen in the National Portrait Gallery collection.


“the figures in my work are drawn form life and this gives an immediacy and sense of recognition.” Ivy Smith


Discussion points

  • Why does a hospital want art on its walls?
  • Are certain images by more appropriate for a healthcare setting? Why?
  • Do you know what the Orthopaedic and Trauma department treats in a hospital?
  • Why do you think Ivy chose to depict swimmers in her painting?
  • How does the composition of the figures affect the way you look at the painting?
  • What is the difference between the resting figures and the swimmers?

Practical activities

  • Collect images of water from books and magazines
  • Look at other artists work, such as David Hockney who depicted swimmers in a pool. Also look at paintings by Claude Monet and J M W Turner. Compare their depiction of water.
  • Choose different types of materials: collage, paint, oil pastel resist with watercolour, textiles, printmaking,clay/ceramics, photograph or drawing. Using these, see whether different materials create different effects when depicting water.


Compare Ivy’s picture with the River benches and Drift stone seats in the outside courtyard. The seats use more abstract depictions of water in their design. Consider these works alongside themes of abstraction, representation and materials.


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