ACT Artists-in-Schools Program 2015
In terms 3 and 4 of 2015, four local artists worked in ACT Primary Schools.
The schools that hosted artists were Franklin Early Childhood School (glass artist, Ruth Oliphant); Duffy Primary School (puppeteer, Marianne Mettes); Charnwood Dunlop School (photographer, Sean Davey); and Charles Conder Primary School (visual artist, Amelia Zaraftis).
Ruth Oliphant at Franklin Early Childhood School
Ruth Oliphant is a glass artist and graduate of the ANU School of Art. Her professional practice includes being represented five times at the Sculpture Objects Functional Art (SOFA) Fair in Chicago, the world’s foremost fair devoted to functional art and design. In 2014, Ruth completed two overseas residencies at Berlin Glass supported by the Endeavour Fellowship and Bullseye Glass in Portland Oregon.
At Franklin Early Childhood School, Ruth worked with around 250 students to create a collaborative, 6-meter long glass window that is now installed in the school courtyard. The theme the students explored during this project was of place and belonging, with a focus on their journey to school. The project was designed to teach students basic components of art and design and explore how artists use these basic elements to express deeper meanings and symbols.
"I worked with the students to look at the environment around their school. We went for walks where I asked them to look at the landscape and see it in terms of shape and colour. The students then created a collage in coloured paper shapes. We then looked at how these elements can be translated into the medium of glass. The project was a great way to bring the school together creatively. On an individual level the students were able to learn about the material of glass in a new and hands on way."
The glass window created by Ruth and the children is positioned in the school where all students walk past it each day, and installed at a child’s height so that future students can continue to interact with it.
Marianne Mettes at Duffy Primary School
Marianne Mettes is an artist, performer, puppeteer and puppet maker who has been professionally trained by master puppeteers from all around the world. She has worked as a puppeteer, performer and teaching artist the USA and Australia, creating custom projects for the Sesame Street Workshop (New York), the National Museum of Australia, ACT NO Waste, the National Folk Festival and more.
At Duffy Primary School, Marianne presented puppet shows and taught several different styles of puppetry to students across the school, looking at how any object might become a puppet. Students explored many different styles of puppetry including shadow puppetry, hand puppets, sock puppets and rod puppets. Using common and found materials they created their own puppets, developing their creativity, showcasing their individuality and working with sensory, play, movement and game focused activities to build puppet characters.
To find out more about Marianne's work at Duffy Primary School, visit http://www.puppetoodle.com/blog/tag/duffy
Sean Davey at Charnwood Dunlop School
Sean Davey is a photographer with a focus on documentary, narrative based practice. He works with sequences of pictures, most notably making books and portfolios of photographs that have been made over long periods of time. His photography practice is centred on a style referred to as 'personal documentary', utilising familiar, every-day places, people and experiences to influence and produce work.
At Charnwood Dunlop School, Sean's photography project engaged the entire school, from kindergarten students to Year Six students, as well as the teachers. Ten good quality digital cameras were purchased and students learnt basic principles of photography and how to use the cameras photographing their school surrounds. These pictures were uploaded to an online portal where they could be accessed by the teachers and used as a prompt for student writing and classroom displays. Students' pictures were edited into two books, accompanied by Sean's own photographs made at the school, which were designed and printed and delivered to the school for their library.
Sean also set up a photography darkroom at the school where students could learn about printing black and white photographs in the traditional analogue method. Students used a large format pin hole camera and printed images in the darkroom, exposing them to non-digital photographic techniques.
Amelia Zaraftis at Charles Conder Primary School
Amelia Zaraftis’ sculptural and performance-based arts practice explores visual communication systems, such as line markings and road signs, the symbolic meaning of garments, and context-specific colour/symbol codes like semaphore. Her work includes soft sculptures featuring text, like bean bags, travel snugs, sleeping bags and pillows. Each sculpture is based on a different road sign encountered by the artist during field-research trips. She also works with materials found on location, like leaves, sticks, paddymelons, and salt. Recurring themes in Amelia’s practice include safety and responsibility (individual and societal), and situation specific methods of communication and meaning-making.
Focusing on the school's ‘Friendly Five’ values as its foundation, Amelia's project embodied the positive values of the school community. Students from Preschool to Year 6 made drawings which depicted positive experiences they had had at school, and reflected upon their work to identify a word encapsulating the main feeling or idea in their drawing. Using familiar everyday materials such as pebbles and pencils, students constructed or wrote their words in the school playground, creating ephemeral installations. These word installations were photographed, edited, printed and mounted on foam core ‘bricks’ and installed as a community word wall in the school reception foyer, alongside students' individual and collaborative charcoal drawings.
The project incorporated technical lessons (in drawing, watercolour, collage, ephemeral installation and photographic documentation) and activities that extended the visual arts learning of students beyond the usual curriculum.
"This art program has been one of the best experiences of my life. It gave me a new perspective on art and drawing. You taught me that art isn’t only just patterns and flowers. You showed me it can be anything and can be about experiences or anything you wish. Thank you so much!" (Student participant).