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In Theodoric garden:from a sensorial course to a traveller’s diary
Friday 5 December 2008
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Theodoric’s garden is, like any garden, a perceptible and physical context; they appear to us with colours, smells and sounds, tactile feelings; these feelings, stored in voluntary or involuntary memory, are a source for imagination.


- To stimulate “imaginative perception" (Paul Klee)
- To structure languages


- To perceive sensations in a reasoned way
- To use tools that enable awareness of sensations
- To learn to articulate verbal and plastic language.



- “windows"and other variously shaped centring tools
- mirrors
- notebooks, paper chalk, pastel crayons
- cameras, pencils
- scarves
- collecting boxes, a press


Theodoric’s Park in Ravenna



- 1) List sensations

When you are in a garden, how can you pay more attention to what you perceive rather than to what you know or think you know?


Ask the children to single out details to be observed: the veins in the stone, the lines of the alleys, the writings on the walls, the various very wide perspectives exposed to their gaze from the top of the Mausoleum, the style of the architectural elements, the drawing of railings.

They use the mirrors to create surprising effects, to brake the scale. Keep traces of these experiments on photographs…

They make palettes and colour charts: the various shades of the white of the stone, of the green of the vegetation, the small spots of bright orange of the pomegranates in the trees and take them down with pastels or paper chalk.

They keep photographs or sketches of these observations.



The children move about in the garden, blindfolded, for a better exploration and comparison of the tactile characteristics of its elements.

They bring back, classify, keep and choose elements that will be stored in the pages of the notebook : samples of earth, plant elements fallen to the ground, twigs …


With the same tools, they list smells: the fragrance of flowers, of some leaves, of fruit, of the earth, of grass.

- sound elements (bird songs, for example) :

With the same approach they can be recorded while they walk about in order to make a catalogue of sounds to explore, identify, qualify…

- 2) Language structure:

During each step, words and sentences are written down in order to

- qualify the sensations they have listed,
- express what everyone feels

Mental images spring from this articulation between various languages; choices are made, they create their own personal itinerary, which will structure the realisation of each “travel diary".



Ask the children to gather information about

- traces of life in Ravenna in Theodoric’s times
- Theodoric himself

Concepts and symbols connected to the garden and visible in the iconography of Ravenna’s mosaics

The Park’s ecosystem, the species that live there, how the park is connected with the nature of the soil and with the climate


The children will be assessed on the diversity of

- what has been collected
- projects of plastic realisations

and the interest given to build or widen their knowledge of Theodoric’s garden..


Aline Rutily Conseillère pédagogique en Arts Visuels (Yvelines) France

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