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Sunday 7 June 2020

Sunday Afternoon Art – Reassembling the Collection: Accidental Owls

Sunday Afternoon Art is our monthly art drop-in session which is usually held at the Gallery for families to take part in on the first Sunday of every month. Whilst the Gallery is closed, we are hosting a new Sunday Afternoon Art activity online every week so you can continue to be creative with is whilst at home.

Today’s activity has been designed by Caroline Areskog Jones.

Owls are seen as symbols of wisdom and often artists use creatures in their work to tell stories or highlight this quality.

Hugh Lee was a British artist who lived in Richmond and made artwork based on ‘assemblage’: using various gathered materials. He gave this piece to Orleans House Gallery where it is now on view in the Study Gallery.

An assemblage of two white owls
Hugh Lee, Accidental Owls, 2004

We would like to invite you to make your own version and create a couple of accidental owls which perhaps you have seen flying at night through the local parks.

What you will need:

  • Large cardboard square – this needs to be bigger than the largest rectangle (see below)
  • Cereal or other cardboard packet cut into 3 rectangles.  These sizes can be approximate:
    • 30 x 15 cm
    • 15 x 10 cm
    • 7 x 5 cm
  • A small matchbox (empty of matches) or similar size box
  • A piece of string (to act as a hook on the back of the cardboard)
  • Scissors
  • Glue (PVA or Pritt Stick)
  • Brown, white, yellow and green paint – acrylic, poster paint or gouache
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Paint palette (you can use some recycling for this)
  • 2x pots half filled with clean water (I used old yoghurt pots)
  • Tape
  • Paper towel to wipe any spillage
  • Newspaper to paint on
  • Apron or old tshirt to cover clothing
Art materials on the table

Draw around rectangle 30 x 15cm in the centre of the large cardboard square and paint around the edge using brown paint.

Someone painting a carboard square

Paint the loose 30 x 15cm rectangle in brown.

A cardboard rectangle being painted

Paint a yellow sun, and some sunlight over the brown 30 x 15cm rectangle.

Paint some green grass in the bottom right hand corner.

A paintbrush in a palette

Paint the 2 smaller rectangles in white paint with thick brush strokes to look like feathers. When the paint is dry add a yellow beak and eye circles and ask an adult to create 2 holes in either rectangle for eyes.


Pull out the matchbox ‘drawer’ and draw a triangle. Cut this shape with scissors. If you aren’t using a matchbox, then add a small rectangle to the top of the box with card or paper.

Scissors cutting a triangle

Paint this box and triangle white.


On the centre of the back of the large cardboard square attach the string ‘hook’ by making 2 knots and securing with tape.

String hook

When the paint is dry on the large cardboard square, add detail with pencil lines.

Assemblage: Using glue stick it all together. Add the brown background to the large cardboard square, then add the two ‘owls’.  Lastly add the smaller cardboard matchbox to the bottom left hand corner.


Hang somewhere in the sunshine.

Whilst enjoying your accidental owls, perhaps look online and listen to their call.

Finished owl assemblage

Don’t forget to share your designs at #OrleansHouseGallery