Exploring Identity

Through art, we can learn more about who we are, how we can identify with others, how we want to present ourselves and what is important to us. Self-portrait masks can be a quick, simple and enjoyable way to achieve this, but are also a great way of getting all ages involved in, and thinking about, the Arts.



Blackfield Creatives will present a series of six one-hour workshops to work with students to create their own masks. The sessions would be part of a flexible programme, which could either be delivered over consecutive days or weeks. The first session will involve a brief introduction to the history of self-portraits – every artist from Rembrandt to Tracey Emin has created their own – so we will investigate those images to see how they vary.

Students will be given an opportunity to conduct their own research during the sessions, taking the time to study themselves and consider how they wish to create their own self-portrait. We will encourage them to use the internet, question the artist delivering the workshop and study different techniques to determine which appeals to them most. They will then draw a 2D version of their mask on paper before creating the 3D masks, using mixed media including papier mache, collage and paint. Students will be encouraged to use recycled materials, such as bottles, lids, newspapers etc.

The masks will be decorated and the students asked to talk to the group about themselves, from behind their masks. These performances can be filmed and can be used to create opportunities for further discussions within the PSHE curriculum, perhaps about any issues, fears or anxieties they may have. There will be conversations about how the masks helped them open up about any concerns, because of the anonymity they offer, and these groups discussions could enable teaching staff to take the appropriate follow-up any action after the sessions, within a safe setting.

The workshops will get students thinking about how they might appear to the outside world and how that could compare to the way that they think about themselves – Oscar Wilde commented that “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth”.

The programme is open to all students and everyone will be able to take part, regardless of their abilities or any additional needs that they may have.


Key Stage it is applicable for

This activity is relevant for all Key Stages. The programme content will be adjusted to suit the age group, following discussions with school staff, and all safeguarding measures will be adhered to.



Visual arts



How the offer links to the curriculum

This activity links to the following curriculum subjects:


  • Art and Design
  • Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHE)
  • English
  • History
  • Design and technology
  • Mathematics
  • Geography
  • Languages
  • Computing
  • Religious Education
  • Citizenship


Learning outcomes

This activity will deliver the following learning outcomes, which are linked to the National Curriculum:


  • Students will be able to produce unique works of art, which will enable them to explore their ideas and record their experiences, during the development, design and production phases.


  • Students will develop their research, creative and analytical skills


  • Students will learn about great artists and develop their understanding of the historical development of their art forms.


  • Students will learn about different techniques and use this knowledge to create their own masks, which will all be uniquely personal to the individual



Blackfield Creatives will discuss the cost of delivering this project with each school


Required resources

  • Classroom/artroom setting with student access to IT