Lesson Plan:The Artwork of Ellison Robertson


Visual Arts 4-6, Outcome 2:

Students will talk about art using their own words, incorporating vocabulary from the language of art to examine a range of past and contemporary artworks and aesthetic conventions from diverse cultures and communities, including Acadians, African Nova Scotians, Gaels, and Mi’Kmaq with respect and sensitivity.



Students will investigate Gaelic cultural themes in the works of Ellison Robertson.


Suggested time

2 hours


Anticipated Outcomes

Students will

  • Examine the works of Ellison Robertson and pinpoint themes from Gaelic culture (i.e.) Gaelic naming system.
  • Students will be informed that the values represented are those of the artist and are intended to reflect Gaelic culture.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the naming system within Gaelic culture.
  • Use pastels to make an illustration based on a photograph of someone.



  • Tell children to bring in a photograph of someone in their family.
  • Read the section of the website titled "Ciamar a Bhios Iad 'gad Shloinneadh |  How Do they Style You?"
  • Discuss the naming system of the sloinneadh.  Make sure the students understand what generation is represented by what name. 
  • Inform students that while "Celtic" artwork, such as knots, are referenced when speaking about Gaelic-speaking peoples, the Gaels of Nova Scotia do not have any signature pieces of art that represent them culturally.  Instead we will look at how Gaels depict their own experiences within the culture.
  • Look at the works of Ellison Robertson at http://cbuagcollection.ca.
  • What is unique about the collection?  What themes from Gaelic culture are represented?
  • Hand out - A Key to Gaelic names (16 KB PDF).  Translate the sloinneadh of a person represented.
  • On a computer, find out what the person represented was known for.
  • Illustrate a family member's photo and write their sloinneadh on the same page.


Review and Reflection

  • Display our illustrations to the class.  Talk about the person you are depicting and their sloinneadh