Artist in Schools program
The Artist in Schools Program at Christmas Hills Primary School was joyful, creative and extremely rewarding experience and most importantly the children took complete ownership of the ‘Imaginarium project’ and were actively engaged in the entire process from concept to completion.
I took the position of facilitator, artistic director and project manager in this collaborative project. My priorities were to honour the creativity of the children while creating a permanent and interactive sculptural work. The delightful students of Christmas Hills Primary School developed ideas, concepts, and planning through a series of workshops including site specific earth art, casting, model making, landscape planning, clay sculpture, construction and drawing. They developed a concept of what the Imaginarium could be through discussion and visual inspiration, and contributed their ideas through sculptural form and drawing. The final sculptural works included a nest, a teepee, a bridge, a wind chime and a village, all set within a landscaped garden of various textures including boulders, stones, pebbles, sandpit, mulch and plants. The children helped in the construction and installation of the final works. They measured, mixed, painted, landscaped, cast, carved, wove, tightened nuts and bolts, planted and landscaped with energy and enthusiasm and watched their ideas come to life. An amazing bunch of parents were the heros that helped with the hard work to complete the project.
It really was a special project to be a part of, with an outcome that I believe we are all proud of. This permanent outdoor work is interactive, it is part garden, part playground and part sculpture and an enduring imaginative space for the children of Christmas Hills Primary.
The Mobile Gallery Sculpture – Royal Children’s Hospital
This interactive gallery space was created for, and with, patients of The Royal Children’s Hospital. It is a moveable structure that can sit beside hospital beds for interaction with confined patients, be moved around wards and function as a public exhibition space for children’s artwork. It is an intimate and immersive experience, where children can view works created by their peers on the gallery walls, find sculptures inside drawers, and watch children’s video works on a small screen installed behind cupboard doors.
The inaugural exhibition was created with patients at The Royal Children Hospital and opened by Minister for the Arts Heidi Victoria
Seeds of Ideas – ArtPlay
The Seeds of Ideas project introduced 80 urban children many of which live in high rise flats around Melbourne, to the world of seeds. The project looked at the life cycle of seeds as both inspiration for art making, and conceptual thought. A series of exploratory art workshops and activities were held at Artplay and locations near the Yarra River.
The design and structure of seeds was explored with the help of conservationist Kirsty Skilbeck, to gain an understanding of the way that seeds catch the wind or travel to find their new home. After viewing the nature table the children made their own flying seeds out of paper and tested the design and flying ability of their seed sculptures by casting them off the Artplay mezzanine.
The notion of seeds as a metaphor was introduced where seeds are the beginning of things, things that grow, like an idea. The children wrote and drew a ‘Seed of an Idea’ that they would like to send off into the world. Little boats were made from natural materials that held these ideas onboard, in search of a place to grow. They were then placed in the water and floated away on an unknown adventure, travelling down the Yarra River for somebody to find, like a message in a bottle. Setting the boats free became a ceremony that took place on the Yarra River during excursions to native bushland on Herring Island and the vegetable patches of Collingwood Children’s Farm. These were the places where we touched the ground, made earth art and viewed seeds during various cycles of growth. Many of these children live above the ground in small apartments and the experience was an opportunity to get acquainted with things that grow and places that are alive within Melbourne’s urban setting and to gain an understanding, through play, of the life cycle of seeds.
I have worked with community groups to create and design books with children that empower them as authors and illustrators. Creating books that children identify with, and feel proud of, and act as vital aids in early literacy. Projects include the creation of books in mother tongue languages in East Timor (where non existed before), books with patients at the Royal Children’s Hospital, a book about worms and composting for the introduction of green waste collection in Albury, an early intervention book with the centre for non violence with thoughtful gender portrayals and relationships. And a residency tour through five remote towns of South Australia from Coober Pedy to Ceduna, led to the creation of five new books for regional kids that don’t get many artists travelling through their desert towns. I create programs of artistic activities that engage the children on topics and create the content for these publications, showcasing children’s voices and artwork in quality publications that I then design.