Artist in schools Program

In Term 2 in 2017 I have been working with students at Daylesford Secondary College on an innovative art project called Fluctuating Spaces. I am grateful to Creative Victoria and the College for this wonderful opportunity to facilitate such an authentically creative project with young people. This project was funded by the Artists in Schools – A Victorian Government Initiative. Below is the project outline for the project.

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4 Day Intensive

Fluctuating Spaces kicked off on April 18-22 with a 4 day Intensive series of workshops and activities for the Year 7 and Year 10 students involved from Daylesford Secondary College.

The project made links with English, Art & Science throughout the week that saw collaboration between Artist Jodie Goldring, English teacher Nick Cowan, Science Teacher Eirinn Taylor and Project Co-ordinator Lisa Gunders. There were a number of teachers and support staff from the College who assisted with the project throughout the first week.

On Day 1 Nick Cowan led the students on a journey to introduce them to the theme of CHANGE. Students participated in a number of activities that promoted thinking, discussion and social communication. The day ended with a round circle sharing session where students opened up about the changes they had experienced in their lives.

Day 1Ideas on records

On Day 2 Jodie Goldring introduced students to installation artists who have explored change in innovative ways. Students formed groups, planned and then created an art installation inspired by Cornelia Parker’s “Cold Dark Matter – An Exploded View”. The installation was made from interesting objects found at the Daylesford transfer Station. They were suspended from the ceiling and cast interesting shadows on the wall behind. Links were made with Science when Eirinn Taylor introduced students to plastic (bottle) waste and recycling processes globally.

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On Day 3 students used toothpicks and plasticine to make small-scale sculptures. The students voted on the design that they wanted to create on a larger scale using sticks and potatoes inspired by Tim Johnson’s “Spudtopia”. A birdcage design was then created in 3-dimensions, which required students to work collaboratively. Later in the day students visited the school garden and made terrariums from recycled plastic bottles, which they took home. The Birdcage moved to the garden where the potatoes were wrapped in soil and hessian to see if they would grow!!

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On Day 4 students made another stick and potato installation using a very different design process. Students explored construction techniques to make an unplanned installation that grew in a squash court over an hour. After lunch the students went on an excursion to Wombat Flat on the bank of Lake Daylesford to collect willow for the next art project.

Spuds and Sticks UNPLANNED

After the initial 4 Day Intensive Fluctuating Spaces was held for one full day each week over Term 2 in 2017. On Wednesday April 26, recycled electrical wire was used to randomly weave into recycled hanging basket frames. The students then worked out ways to bring the frames together to create an organic sculpture. Students, teachers and I then walked around the school and voted on the site for installing the sculpture. It was  decided that this art installation will grow out of the entrance of the school .

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The following week on Tuesday May 2 the students utilised and built upon their experiences with random weaving to create willow forms in groups that were then joined together towards the end of the day to make one large willow work.

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The following week, on Thursday May 11, students started a creation process to dress a tree with graffiti knitting . Students, teachers, parent volunteers and I  had fun looking at all the knitted squares, scarves and rugs that had been collected for the project. We were very appreciative to everyone in the Daylesford community that donated to the project!

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On  Tuesday May 16 we finished graffiti knitting a tree at Daylesford Secondary. We managed to stitch everything together and complete this art installation before the tree dropped all its leaves for winter!! I heard a lone voice whisper from the student audience as they walked by “I want to go and hug that tree”

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On Wednesday 24th May we started a large permanent art installation for Fluctuating Spaces. We created a mixed media wall relief of the built architecture of the school past, present and future that really does encapsulate the theme of change. English Teacher Mr Cowan made another guest appearance to read The Phoenix by Silvia Townsend Warner and helped students discuss the ideas this interesting short story explored. This led into drawn designs that explored the built landscape of the College over time. A design was finalized by lunch and transferred onto a large framed board in the afternoon. The main shapes were even painted by the end of the day! Luckily Year 7’s seem to have an endless supply of energy!

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On Friday 26th May, Wayne (who undertakes all maintenance jobs at the school) and I installed the randomly woven forms in the site chosen by students.

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On Thursday June 1 students learned through discovery and play when introduced to a number of new materials and techniques as they visited a number of art making stations. The activities at each station were string making, lashing sticks with raffia, yarn drawing and wrapping grass with wool and raffia. Once everyone had experimented with the materials and techniques provided they added to the art installation with consideration and care. The final art installation is a mixed media relief sculpture…I like to call it “A Story of Change”.

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On Sunday June 4 family, friends and the community of Daylesford were invited to come see the art installations created during the project. People that attended contributed to the creation of the last art installation. It was wonderful to see Councillor for the Hepburn Shire Kate Redwood and Mary-Anne Thomas MP, State Member for Macedon there. They were both very impressed with what students had achieved during the project.

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We also managed to fit in a day on Tuesday 6th of June where we made links with science thanks to Eirinn Taylor. Ms Taylor started the day talking about renewable energy and then focused on wind that can be used to create power. 4 groups of students worked together to make 4 functional wind turbines that will be located in the new building to power fairly lights near Art/Science. Jodie Goldring showed images of artworks that have been created using the wind and then supported students to make wind spinners from recycled aluminum cans.

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We wrapped up the project with some reflection activities that ensured students celebrated successes and considered the challenges involved with the project. One of these activities was graffiti knitting love hearts to a fence and laminating post-it notes that contained kind words for our new friends.

Documentation and creative writing from the project will be presented at Words in Winter, a literary festival in Daylesford held in August 2017.

It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to work as an Artist at Daylesford Secondary College and a privilege to spend time with a group of young people at the beginning of their high school journey.

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