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On a sunny day last October we embarked on a trip to beautiful Macarthur. These photos capture the liveliness of the Light House Chamber Observatory. It has since been properly completed- the final interior sculptures added, the outer white panels painted orange and the historical bench seat varnished. I am told that whenever you visit the school during recess or lunch you can find children happily playing in it- that’s exactly what I want to hear 🙂
Late in the second last week of our project I made an evening visit to our Project Coordinator and School Principle Lynn Lyle’s home. Here I collected 18 completed drawings crucial to the conclusion of our project. When Lynn and I attended an Arts Vic PD day back in March she warned me that she was not creative at all, non-the-less she was prepared to take our explorers for their Painting and Drawing Sessions as part of our five week rotation. Looking through these 18 completed drawings together I could see Lynn’s genuine pride in the children’s work.
During the Painting & Drawing Program the students were introduced to different mediums and taught a number of drawing techniques. It wasn’t until after I’d written this program that I saw the quality of the work the students were already making in there fortnightly art classes, I began to doubt if my program had anything to offer them….
We used Eugene von Guerard as a starting point, not so much for his meticulous technique but for his arts explorative process of looking at the environment in its parts and as its whole. The Arts Explorers in our program were to look at their environments, drawing on their expedition themes and create images uses the new methods shown to them.
This process was not about creating “perfect” drawings. In fact parts of this process were specifically designed to break with that idea we hold of being “a good drawer”, this was about getting in touch with creativity, and becoming brave and bold in the process. One of my favourite bits of feed back came from a year six student when I asked her what she had learnt through the process. She replied that she had learnt “that art didn’t have to be perfect” and that “it could be anything”. WOW!! Her mum actually stopped me in the hall one day to let me know the interest that her daughter was now showing in creativity and art and what a positive effect the program was having on her. For me it doesn’t get much better than that!!
These 18 Images are really strong works that are a kin with works I have seen by practicing artists in contemporary galleries. I collected the drawings that evening to turn them into digital prints which would become the lead-light images for our Light Chamber Observatory. Logos Ahead Warrnambool did a great job printing these and they look absolutely stunning inside our child centred light space.
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…