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
Our Kitchen Table Art Expedition takes a great deal of inspiration from Eugene von Guerard. This Colonial artist made several trips through South West Victoria through what is now called the Kanawinka Geopark that spans from near Geelong to Mt Gambier. This is a volcanic landscape that has rich history and soil.
Our project started in May with our visit to von Guerard’s masterpiece Tower Hill at the Warrnambool Art Gallery, painted in 1855. Later that same decade he trekked to Mt Eccles and undertook drawing studies there as well. With this in mind we made our second expedition outside Macarthur to Mt Eccles. (You can get a better look at Eugene’s work by clicking on the image above to enlarge it)
We started at the top look out where the Explorers used drawings and iPads to record the environment. Breaking up into our Expedition Parties we made our way around the crater and down into the cave were our explorers observed the effect of darkness on their eyes as well as the sounds and smells inside the earth.
We were “blessed” with rain for most of our expedition but under the strong leadership of Mrs Lyles we still ventured on to the camping ground where the explorers we asked to find a solitary spot to contemplate Mt Eccles- without chattering, to listen, look, smell and wonder…..
This wonderfully wet day of exploration provides us with the source for our next five weeks of work. I have begun my time with my next group: the Light Expedition Party. I am very interested to see what things we discover about our environment together…..
We’ve already noted how overcast days diffuse the light making shadows almost non-existent and how light rain seems to smudge light causing a loss of visual detail as the landscape recedes….
…… and on my way out of Macarthur I was met with a huge Rainbow, as if to mark the start of this new round of inquiry working with the Light Expedition Party over the next 5 weeks 🙂