Armchair Gallery

How to run a creative workshop based on Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day

Artwork by Canaletto (Giovani Antonio Canal) , created in 1732

About this activity

Workshop themes

  • Architecture
  • Fabric
  • Renaissance
  • Romanticism
  • Travel
  • Venetian Masquerade Ball
  • Water


  • Suitable for groups
  • Suitable for one to one

Difficulty level




  • Name badges (for all participants and staff).


  • Sit in a circle.
  • Go around the room and make eye contact with everyone, shake their hand and say hello.
  • Inform the group that there is an imaginary (large) blue ball that will be passed along to each person. When this is passed to the next person it can become anything that they would like it to be.  The facilitator might like to start the task with a demonstration i.e. a rabbit or a balloon etc. Try not to speak when this is passed on and encourage people to act out what the ball becomes.
  • The activity can be extended by passing it to random people in the group and not in a clockwise direction or responding in different ways to the suggested objects, i.e. a sandwich; actions – eating it, making it or buying the ingredients at the supermarket etc.
  • Imaginary objects could be created in response to the painting, i.e. rowing a boat or waving a flag etc.




  • Look at the artwork using the Armchair Gallery app.
  • Welcome and invite the person or group to create with you and write their answers on the flip chart. Ask open-ended questions (like in the list to the right).
  • Affirm/echo all their answers - together we build a story that can have sound, movement, words - even drawings.
  • Retell the story, then invite them to add another creative element like sound, or movement.

Suggested Questions

  • What is going on in this painting?
  • What colours can you see?
  • What is the artist focussing on?
  • What stands out for you in the picture?
  • Where do you think this artwork is set?
  • How does this artwork make you feel when you look at it?
  • What sounds would you hear if you were in this scene?
  • Where do you think they are sailing to on the boats?
  • Why do you think that there are so many people here?

Play this video

Workshop members can watch this on their own tablet, or you can play it to the group by connecting your tablet to a TV or projector. It can also be downloaded from the Armchair Gallery website.

Interact with the artwork

At this point in the workshop participants should have a go at using the app to interact with the artwork. From the main menu, enter Dulwich Picture Gallery, select Bucintoro at the Molo on Ascension Day and tap Interact and play.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 1


  • Water sounds.
  • Water-themed songs.
  • Tactile, water-themed fabrics such as chiffon.
  • Flag shapes cut out of card.
  • Sticks for flags.
  • Gelato selection for your group to try.
  • Fizzy drinks to taste.
  • Paper for making origami boats.


  • Play relaxing sounds/music based on water. Ask the group to relax and really take in the sounds that they can hear.
  • If the group would enjoy a sing-along, play themed songs based on water such as Row Row Row your Boat, Water on the Horizon, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, Bridge over Troubled Water etc. Or explore some well-known Italian songs such as Que Sara Sara.
  • Opera music that has originated in Italy could also be explored and whilst listening, serve some Italian themed tastes or pass around different smells that relate to the image.
  • Finish exploring music by playing carnival music and use carnival masks or flags to inspire movement to the music. (These could be bought or made by the group)
  • You could play this carnival themed piece of music.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 2


  • Tastes could include, gelato and fizzy drink inspired the Italian traditions of The Bucintoro at the Molo.


  • Pass around a model of a boat. Ask people to touch different parts of the boat i.e. the sail, the rim of the boat, the base and its anchor. Model boats can sometimes be picked up in charity shops, however, if you are not able to get hold of one, the Origami Boats could be used.

Multi-Sensory Exploration, Part 3


  • Cut out some pieces of fabric and attach these to bamboo canes using glue guns. These made flags can then be used to inspire movement in response to The Bucintoro at the Molo.
  • Sit in a circle and ask participants to hold an assortment of different fabrics. These fabrics can be inspired by water. Encourage people to create movements in response to descriptions of the sea/water i.e. stormy or calm seas, tranquil water etc.
  • An activity parachute could be used with the group instead of using different fabrics.
  • Origami Boats could be made and placed onto the parachute and/or fabric and moved around on the fabric to emulate water or the sea. Ask the group to name their boat. Continue to create the different seas until all of the origami boats have fallen off.


  • Pass around fresh garlic plants or garlic cloves for the group to smell.

Making: Painted Glass


Ask/support each group member to show everyone their artwork if they are comfortable with that, this will prompt discussion within the group. Display the completed artwork in clear view of everyone. Thank everyone for coming and being part of the session. Congratulate everyone on taking part in the session and end with a big round of applause. You could extend this session by serving an Italian themed meal e.g. pasta, tiramisu and Limoncello. A celebratory party could be organised linked to the themes of the painting.


Getting Materials

You should be able to get most of the materials mentioned in this guide at your local arts supplier.

They are also avaiable on Amazon. If you shop via Amazon Smile (using the button below - UK only), then we will recieve a donation that we can put towards our work with older people.

Other Apps

You could use these other apps to further explore digital technology in your workshop.