Learn English with Art

In this post, we learn English with a bit of serious art and light-hearted Scottish culture.

We’re looking at Strathearn’s snowmen (and women) and discussing ‘why everyone is beautiful’.

For English learners, there’s a practice English for creatives exercise at the end!

How Impulsive are You?

Wednesday evening saw a thick, beautiful layer of snowfall quickly down on the town of Crieff and its region Strathearn.
Many rushed straight out into the night to have their snow fun (us), others wagered that it would last until the next day, and spent a happy Thursday attacking the snow.
Are you impulsive like this?
learn English with art Strathearn Snowmen everyone is beautiful

Learn English with Art – with Help from  Strathearn’s Snowmen

As an artist, I frequently hear people say they can’t draw or aren’t creative – and then a thick flurry of snowfalls and suddenly everyone’s making snow sculptures without inhibition. Yes, of course, they’re a tradition, but they are also a rare opportunity to get physical with material, creating something from the resources you’ve got and innovating as you go – and feeling that sense of transcendence you only get from being in a creative zone.
While I know snowman building is an activity to do with the kids, I’m saying it’s not only that. I bet most adult helpers got a wee kick from seeing the results of their efforts, felt a bit more relaxed and happy after being in the mindset where nothing much matters beyond working out how to keep the head on, or finding that perfect branch for an arm (and how much do we need that right now!)
Comparing the snowmen you see different styles, marks, intent and innovation and it makes my art teacher self all happy: same brief, same materials, same tradition – but look how varied the results – I do think every one beautiful in its own way.
Here’s a collection from our local community. Thank you to everyone who shared their photos on the Crieff & Strathearn Friendships Facebook page!
Learn English with art - all the different styles of Crieff snowmen
Learn English with art - all the different styles of Crieff snowmen

Everyone is Beautiful

I’d like to end with a quote (and exhibition title) by artist (a self-described ‘visual activist’) Zanele Muholi:
‘In My World, Every Human is Beautiful.’
Their* work (Zanele Muholi) is remarkable: striking black and white photographs that draw on fashion photography norms but feature people often persecuted for their looks.  This includes black, transgender and gay people. As a photographer, they finding beauty in the very reasons they’re not a beauty norm.

This is a tradition in the history of photography that also began in black and white with photographers Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, who dared “to show the diversity of identity and their struggle to exist on their own terms.” 1
And in case you are thinking that it takes an art education to pin gender and race identity politics on a snowman, think again.

Here’s our effort – myself and Young Blue (aged 6).

learn English with art Strathearn Snowmen everyone is beautiful
Young Blue and I built a girl goalie snowwoman.  
Snow Girl!
It started snowing around 5 pm, and by 7 we had this beauty made and ready to defend!
I asked Young Blue if it was a man or woman ‘snowman’ goalkeeper we were building.
She replied, ‘we’re both girls, why would we build a boy?’

Exactly my love. 

1 Quoted from:
Artist Rooms: Self EvidencePhotographs by Woodman, Arbus and Mapplethorpe
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh – 6 April – 20 October 2019. Find out more here.
Find out more about the amazing Zanele Muholi here:
Crieff & Strathearn Friendships Facebook page can be found here.


Live language learning!

English notes: gender pronouns

* Pronouns can be clunky when written, but it’s a highly charged subject and important to get right. While most trans people will use the common pronouns, ‘he’ and ‘she‘, to refer to themselves, some also chose to use the gender-neutral pronouns ‘they‘ and ‘their‘ in the singular sense. It’s this pronoun that is widely adopted in art criticism and throughout Western art galleries when writing about an LGBT+ artist (again unless otherwise specified by the artist).

About our Language School Blog

We hope you’ve enjoyed our dip into a way to learn English with art – and a taste of our wonderful and friendly community in Crieff, Perthshire.

We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. There’s something for everyone.

If you’ve liked this blog, you might want to read another snowy one:

Learn English in Perthshire | Ways of Seeing | Snow & Menhir


Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:

Tell us about something mundane but beautiful!

What is it and what makes it beautiful to you?

Tell us about it in the comments below. Write as much as you like, and if you would like us to check &  correct your English, write CP  (correct please) at the end.

Live language learning!


Tell us about something mundane but beautiful!