Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Artist in Residence

Q.  What kind of institution has an everlasting bucket of chips, a happy birthday cake that sings to you and a track for guinea pig racing? 

A.  A Super School, as imagined by students from a tiny school in the bottom bit of Australia.

Just finished a residency with St. Patricks Primary School in Port Fairy, Victoria. The kids and I worked together to produce this artwork which is a "Super School". The children imagined what they'd like a Super School to include and then drew those elements. I then cut them up, and constructed the collage. I used spacers behind some of the drawings to give the work a three dimensional appearance. The coloured work around the edges was contributed by the preps and grade one children who lacked the fine motor skills to do detailed cartoons but had great crayon skills and combined some gorgeous colours.
Collage detail
I worked with every class in the school, holding cartooning workshops over three weeks. The fourth week was spent with just the grade sixes, cutting out younger kids work and doing final drawings. At this point I felt like a renaissance painter with a stable of my own little artists "We need some roads, draw me some roads! Trees! Let's add treeeees!" The children were very accomodating.
Full image of our 'Super school'
This project taught me to never underestimate the creative force of young minds. Their ideas for a what a Super school should include were both practical-a waterslide that teaches you everything- and the wacky -hand-standing penguin, rocket ships and a wrestling ring. 

I also encouraged students to critique their own ideas and try and evaluate the implications of them. For example, if a super school DID include a ravenous beast that ate all bullies (and sometimes teachers) what problems might this possibly present? How might the students overcome these problems? The answers were surprisingly pragmatic and imaginative i.e. for the example above, the monster doesn't actually fully digest the bullies (and teachers), he just pooes them out again and they consider it a lesson learned.
Genius.

By the way, St.Patricks Primary School, Port Fairy, has the best artist-in-residence program I've seen, with a different artist every two years. Is it a co-incidence that this small town won the title of the WORLDS most liveable community in 2012? I think not.
It took out 'Under 20,000 population' prize and the shire's mayor had to go and dig out his best suit and passport and fly to Abu Dhabi to be presented with the prize.

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