The Thwarting of Mr.Erasmus

part one of a two-part story by Geoffrey McSkimming , illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Learning Intention:

I am learning how illustrators deliberately sequence images so that I can explain how their arrangement affects the viewers’ interpretations.

Success Criteria:

  • I can define key terms in visual literacy and locate these techniques in a range of images.
  • I can compare the arrangement of images in the story with a website of hyperlinked images.
  • I can develop a sales pitch using the sequence of hyperlinked images as a prompt.

Essential knowledge:

More information about how speech, writing and visual elements can be combined to make meaning can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Code and Convention.

Prior to reading, display the three illustrations by Gabriel Evans. Then explicitly teach three visual literacy terms:

  • Colour symbolism: the connotations a colour evokes and the emotions associated with them.
  • Vectors: a line (visible or invisible) that leads a viewer’s eyes from one part of the image to another, or to divide an image.
  • Salience: the elements of an image that most stand out; the eye-catching element in the image.

Reveal and analyse each of the images in turn, asking questions based on the techniques listed above. For example: Which colours have been used in this image? What emotions do these colours evoke? If you have a digital subscription, this activity can be done as an interactive task. After analysing each image, students write a summary using the following prompts:

This image depicts …

This image makes me feel … because … (explain how it uses a technique)

After analysing the three images, students’ chart how their emotions have changed after viewing the three images. For example, students might go from peaceful (Mr. Erasmus by the riverbank) to fearful (Sylphie swimming through the lagoon) to concerned (Sylphie and Mr. Erasmus observing the building site). Read the story, or if you have a digital subscription listen to the audio recording. Then compare how the emotions evoked by the images correspond to the emotions expressed in the story.

Explain that developers, like Behemoth in the story, also use images and a range of visual techniques to evoke emotions of desire, optimism and envy in the viewer. Reveal images of an artist’s impression of an apartment development or building precinct from a local developer’s website. (These can generally be found by typing in your suburb / town + apartment development.) Discuss how the web designer has sequenced the range of images on the website. For example, the website Evoke (an apartment complex in Sydney’s west) uses the following sequence of images:

  • A long shot that reveals the whole apartment complex
  • A slideshow of images that show the beautiful areas of the building
  • A slideshow of the landmarks around the apartment complex
  • An aerial map with a series of hotspots of the major landmarks close to the apartment complex
  • More photos of the beautiful interior.

After deconstructing the series of hyperlinked images, break students into groups of 2 – 3. Explain that they are salespeople of Behemoth Towers. Using the images that appear on the website, they must design a sales pitch to convince Mr. Erasmus and Sylphie that it will be a beautiful complex and that they should both buy an apartment. Provide students with the following structure to guide the sales pitch:

  • A timer will be set, and you will have 60 seconds to convince us to buy an apartment.
  • Start with a question that will hook the interest of Mr. Erasmus and Sylphie.
  • Describe how wonderful the complex will be. Use lots of exaggeration.
  • Can you think of any problems caused by the apartments? Explain how the apartments will solve more problems than they cause.
  • How much are you selling the apartments for?
  • Finish with a powerful statement that will convince them to buy one!