Halloween: Art

Halloween is easily one of my favourite festivals. I love getting dressed up and pretending to be something fantastical for a few hours, watching the jack-o-lanterns beginning to glow eerily in the darkening light and going out guising. Celebrating Halloween is an old tradition that has its roots in both ancient pagan festivivties and elements of Christianity. Originally it was a celebration to remember our dead and the name is derived from “All Hallows Eve”. Over the years though it has become commercialised and the emphasis in more on general supernatural elements than simply remembering our ancestors. 

Many an artist has drawn on the supernatural for inspiration whether they are artists, writers, directors or musicians and so this week I thought I’d show you some examples of this, starting with Art. So here is a quick sample of some of the quirkier artists.  

1) Bernt Notke 

Bernt Notke was a painter and sculptor in the 15th century. Around this time images of the Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) were becoming increasingly popular and in his lifetime he was commisioned to paint several of these gruesome scenes. 

(taken from wikipedia.org)

2) Salvador Dali 

Known as a surrealist, Dali’s work have a dreamlike feel and anything is possible in them. 

(taken from wikipaintings.org)

3) Edward Gorey 

On closer inspection, Edward Gorey’s pen-and-ink illustrations of Victorian and Edwardian scenes betray a darker narrative.  

(taken from noellestevenson.blogspot.com)

4) Hieronymus Bosch 

Hieronymus Bosch was a Dutch painter in the 15th century whose imagination came up with fantastical images. 

(taken from foglobe.com)

5) Henry Fusili 

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli suggests that the girl in the picture is being haunted by various supernatural beasties. I certainly don’t think I would like to wake up to that little demon on my bed.

(taken from deadsecond.com)

6) Mark Ryden

Dubbed the ‘Godfather of Pop-Surrealism’,, Ryden’s haunting images place doll-like girls in creepy scenarios.

(taken from markryden.com)

Halloween: books in a series

Some of the most exciting series to appeal to young adults that use elements of the supernatural:

1) Harry Potter by J K Rowling

(taken from insurrbution.blogspot.com)

2) Not spooky at all but certainly about the supernatural: Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

(taken from twilightguide.com)

3) The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

(taken from bookwormbyheart.blogspot.com

4) The Wyrd Museum by Robin Jarvis

(taken from lists.bestfantasybooks.com)

5) The Saga of Darren Shan by Darren Shan

(taken from heyxtara.blogspot.com)

6) The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Moore

(taken from collider.com)

Halloween: poems

(taken from spookyisles.com)

Five of the best sinister poems read in an over-the-top fashion for Halloween time!

1) Tam o’ Shanter by Robert Burns


2) The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe


3) The Nightmare Lake by H P Lovecraft


4) The Listeners by Walter de la Mere


5) My personal favourite The Loch Ness Monster Song by Edwin Morgan


Halloween: films

(taken from sodahead.com)

Ten of the most enjoyable Halloween films (and yes, a few of them are Tim Burton):

1) Practical Magic


2) Hocus Pocus


3) The Nightmare Before Christmas


4) The Orphanage


5) Beetlejuice


6) Young Frankenstein


7) The Woman in Black


8 ) Sleepy Hollow


9) Interview with a Vampire


10) This one is not a film but it is definitely one of the creepiest episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever to be written – Hush


Level 5 novel questions

Right guys, these have been taken from the prose section of past SQA papers and will give you an idea of the questions to expect in the main exam.

1. Choose a novel which gives you an insight into an aspect of human nature or behaviour. State what the aspect is, and show how the characters’ actions and relationships lead you to a deeper understanding of human nature or behaviour.

 2. Choose a novel with an ending which you find satisfactory. By looking at the novel or short story as a whole, explain why you find the ending satisfactory in bringing to a conclusion the main concerns of the text.

3. Choose a prose work in which setting is an important feature. Explain how the writer creates the setting, and then go on to show how this feature contributes to your understanding of the text as a whole.

4. Choose a novel in which you feel there is an incident of great importance to the story as a whole. Describe the incident and go on to show its importance to the development of the characters and the central concerns of the text.

 5. Choose a novel which has a character who affects you emotionally. Describe how you feel about the character, and show how the writer leads you to feel this way.

 6. Choose a prose work in which the writer uses a memorable style/voice/narrative technique. Explain in detail how features of the writing style/voice/narrative technique contribute to the effectiveness of the text.

 7. Choose a novel where there is an incident which is a turning point crucial to the fate of the main character. Briefly describe what happens at this point and go on to explain why this is crucial to the fate of a main character.

8. Choose a novel in which setting in place and/or time is an important feature. Briefly describe the setting(s) and explain the importance of this feature to the story.

9. Choose a novel or a short story or a non-fiction text or group of texts which deals with an important human issue (such as the abuse of power, conflict between good and evil, loss of freedom or hatred between individuals or groups). Show how the author reveals the issue through the portrayal of people and events throughout the text, and show how your understanding of the issue has deepened.

 10. Choose a novel in which there is conflict between two characters. Examine the nature of the conflict and explain to what extent it is resolved.

 11. Choose a novel with a message which is still relevant today. Show how the author’s portrayal of events and character(s) highlight the author’s message.

 12. Choose a novel which made a strong impact on you. Explain how the writer’s use of language creates this impact.

The Thirty Book Challenge


(taken from www.fanpop.com)

The more that you read,

The more that you know,

The more you learn,

The more places you go.     

(a wee rhyme by Dr Zeuss)

You might think it is silly, but reading definitely teaches us things. Every writer takes inspiration from real life when they begin their tales, no matter how small. Stories can transport us to places we have never been and show us things we would never have thought of.

With that in mind I challenge my Senior pupils to read the following novels. They are all available from either the school library or from the class library at the back of my room. These are thirty novels that I think will teach you something and show you a little bit more of our world using either a real or an imagined setting.

1) The Handmaids Tale – Margaret Atwood,

2) Behind the Scenes at the Museum – Katie Atkinson,

3) Any book by Jane Austen for the original Romantic Comedy,

4) Empire of the Sun – J. G. Ballard,

5) Regeneration – Pat Barker,

6) Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter,

7) Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks,

8 ) Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden,

9) Across the Nightengale Floor – Lian Hearn,

10) I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith,

11) Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey,

12) The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern,

13) Any book by Roddy Doyle for a look at Irish working class social issues,

14) The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini,

15) Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro,

16) The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold,

17) The Help – Kathryn Stockett,

18) Beloved – Toni Morris,

19) Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman,

 20) To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee,

21) Life of Pi – Yann Martell,

22) The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy,

23) Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake,

24) The Hobbit or Children of Hurin – J. R. R. Tolkein,

25) Persopolis – Marjane Satrapi,

26) On the Road – Jack Kerouac,

27) Any short story collection or novel by A. L. Kennedy,

28) Animal Farm – George Orwell,

29) Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels,

30) Fight Club – Chuck Palahnuik.

Let’s see who rises to the challenge!