Since June this year we, myself & Macarthur PS Principle Lynn Lyles, have been working with the Macarthur Men’s Shed to create the Light Chamber Observatory. I wrote an earlier post that explained the process of planning and designing this unique “child centred” structure. Lynn has worked tirelessly to manage this project and ensure that all of our ends “tied-up”. She and I have to thank Woodhouse Graesser Johnston Civil and Structural Engineers of Warrnambool for providing us with their expertise in order to make sure we met our safety standards as well as Bunnings Warrnambool who generously supplied materials for the construction, David Reeding of Plastral who helped us with our acrylic sheeting and Daniel Baulch of Logosahead Warrnambool who helped out with some cool digital prints. We have also had some great help from school mum’s & dad’s and Macarthur community member’s as well…
Most importantly though we need to thank the group of amazing men at the Macathur Men’s Shed who have donated their time, effort and skills in order to turn my drawings into a material reality that should stand proud in the Macarthur PS yard for a good 50 years!!
I am actually a little speechless at the moment, I have spent today working on site to cut all the acrylic sheet for our Light Chamber and had the pleasure of working with the blokes from the Shed as they put our colourful atrium in place. They have been so truly generous with their time and have been a lot of fun to work alongside, they make a pretty mean sponge too & were kind enough to save me a slice for morning tea…. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude right now, let me just say that it is immense!!
One of the coolest things about working on community art projects is being in the position to ask different community members to contribute what they can to a project- I am always impressed by people’s willingness to be generous, and in what ever way they can contribute time, skills and resources for the love of it. Today Lynn walked a group of preps & 1’s through the Light Chamber with its Perspex roof now complete- the sounds of their voices saying “wow!!”, their smiles and the look of amazement in their eyes was a great indication of how well all this effort is appreciated…
Last week the guys from the Men’s were set the task of retrieving the old school bench from the school shed so it could be re-used on our construction- would you believe that it is the same school bench that many of them sat on when they were boys at Macarthur PS many moons ago…. how cool is that!!
Tomorrow night is our Gesamtkunstwerk- the coming together of all our artworks into one final festive celebration of our explorers and the knowledge they’ve gained and the things they’ve created. Our Light Chamber Observatory should be just about completed by then, with a little bit of painting to be finished off in dryer weather. I still have a little more to share about this project so I will keep on posting until I am all caught up…
During the winter weeks of the Kitchen Table Art Expedition I worked with the Light Explorers. I had so much fun with this really interesting group of personalities and thinkers. We spent the first two weeks playing with ephemeral sculpture. I have come to quite enjoy facilitating the students at Macarthur in this practice. We begin by looking at images of other artists that include, among others, Chris Drury and Andy Goldsworthy. The students then get to go out into the yard, find their materials and create their own piece of earth art. I guide them in this process and ask that they bear in mind the topic of their expedition party. They spend the first week working individually and the second week working as a whole group to create their larger work. After spending the morning brain storming about the nature and idea of Light the group came up with their collaborative work- a Part Bon Fire Part Volcano that drew on ideas of fire, lava and the Earth’s origins as star dust….
The explorers spent the next three weeks developing their understanding of light and colour. We drew on that clever fellow Isaac Newton and his illumination (pun intended) of the properties of white light. The crew made colour wheels and put them in motion… Drawing from this experiment they designed novelty colour wheels to be attached as permanent features on the Light Chamber Observatory…. I had a blast with these bright sparks
I have been developing the Kitchen Table Art Expedition with Macarthur Primary School for about two years. Last December we were successful in our bid to be one of Arts Victoria’s 18 Artist In Schools Project. After much anticipation we began our project in early May this term. The project involves students from grades 4, 5, & 6 of Macarthur Primary which is a tiny primary school in the country town of Macarthur. It is a beautiful school with a great sense of community, bright students and great teachers- I have been having a blast working with them each Thursday.
The Kitchen Table Art Expedition is HUGE! (Getting it off to a good start has taken a lot of time hence this belated post!). We use Colonial Artist Eugene von Guerard as our conceptual starting point, his understanding and explorations of Australia’s ecology provide a great metaphor for our examination of interconnectivity.
The project works on the theme of “parts into the whole” and is fittingly made up of four sub-projects that will culminate in our final event in September. The sub-projects are:
The Light Chamber Observatory, a sensory tunnel being built at the school’s kitchen garden with the help of Macarthur’s Mens Shed. It will combine recycled materials with a coloured Perspex roof and the students artwork.
Notes from the Field This is a video Project wherein the explorer students examine their environments through film.
Gaia is Symbiosis as seen from Earth This is an amazing project where we attach a video camera to a helium filled weather balloon and launch it into the stratosphere- we the retrieve it with the help of a parachute and a GPS
Gesamtkunstkwerk We are borrowing this German term to describe our multi-artform extravagant finale. We will combine a kitchen garden feast with the premiere of the expedition films, the unveiling of Light Chamber Observatory, ephemeral sculptures and an exhibition of the student artwork….
The students have been divided into three Expedition Parties, each exploring a theme of Light, Space or Earth. Each group rotates through five week long programs in the different mediums of Painting & Drawing, Sculpture & Installation, and New Media. Each group gets to experience each medium over the course of the project. We have just finished our first five week program- it has been educational and exciting.