Last year, in response to the Covid 19 lockdown, students were given the opportunity to engage with 4 Artist Residencies: an Artist in Residence, a Photographer in Residence, a Musician in Residence and a Dancer in Residence.
These residencies formed an integral part of a planned Arts Festival (March this year) that gave students a voice to express their responses, in a variety of creative languages, to the changes they faced during the year as a result of the Covid 19 lockdown.
With artist, Sarah Rowe, students created an 11 metre collaged panel that represented their connection with nature over the period of the lockdown. They were inspired by the indigenous artist, Kent Morris and his billboard installation, Never Alone and the storythat accompanied the creation of this artwork. Every student created their individual symbol of connection and collaged it onto the whole panel. Every symbol represented each individual child’s story. The collective artwork brought all the stories together to make one big story – of connection, of togetherness, of understanding each other, of oneness, of community.
In 2021, the panel will be transferred onto fabric and the fabric will be further worked on by the students using stitch, applique and embellishment. The fabric will then start a journey around community members’ homes where parents, carers and wider family members can further add to the story of the cloth. This cloth will symbolise both a coming together of stories from each of the students of their time and experiences and connections made during the Covid 19 lockdown, and also provide a canvas that allows for the stories of families to record their responses to their Covid 19 experiences. It will symbolise the fabric of life, the warp and weft that come together to make a strong fabric, a strong community.
Darren James, Photographer in Residence, has spent time in each of the year Neighbourhoods, embedding his residency in the Inquiry learning unique to each neighbourhood. After intoducing the medium of photography through his own work and a series of basic skills, Darren focussed on the idea of seeing and of telling a story through photographs. He introduced the idea of ‘the caption’ to students and explained how the caption often embellished the story told in the image. Students focussed on a range of subject matter relavent to their Inquiry work and also expressed reflective outlooks on the covis 19 experiences. The story of school and learning, a focus on the home and nature, the face and emotions and also friendship and coming together were all themes that emerged from the students’ Inquiries.
During Term 4 last year , our Musician Artist in residence, Singing Leader Emily Hayes, found ways for the students to express the impacts of COVID 19 through games, musical concepts and their imaginations. Due to COVID 19, it was not safe for people to gather together and sing, but we soon discovered other creative ways of story telling, and sharing our experiences through sound. Emily invited the students to imagine what the COVID 19 Virus might sound like, and what it might say if it could speak to us. Thanks to technology, we can see the virus, but what if the Virus does have sound and we just haven’t worked out how to hear it? Across the Year levels, these kinds of ‘fantastic’ concepts inspired creative thinking that allowed a platform for students to express their lived experiences whilst engaging with imaginary possibilities. Sound worlds emerged from these ideas and took the form of sound sculptures, sound sentences or sound pieces. For example, the Preps designed machines for capturing the sound of COVID 19 and then built the machines by using their bodies to represent different parts of the machine. In other year levels, students ‘sounded the environment’ using drumsticks, and discovered a variety timbres through body percussion. It will be exciting to ‘capture’ these sounds and to create the sound sculptures with Emily when she returns later this month. We look forward to sharing our ideas with our community at the Welcome Festival.
What is important about what makes us move? With our Resident Dance Artist Tony Yap, the students began to break down conventional thinking about dance. Across the Neighbourhoods, students participated in activities and discussions in which they experienced that movement can be a helpful tool for many things: for expression of emotion, for coping with every day challenges and for healing the body and the mind. Students were invited to think about what informs the movements they choose to make, and to become observers of movement. Whether the students enjoyed free movement, or dance, to music outside under the gumtrees, or shapeshifting exercises, or discussions about how can you dance your fears, they found that everyone has their own natural choreography of movement which is to be celebrated. Our everyday movements are our choreography. Through out the residency Tony made videos of the students as they engaged in various activities. Tony edited the footage to change the presentation. Some videos were shown in slow motion, in black & white, or in a flat comic strip like appearance. This enabled the students to see themselves objectively as amazing moving bodies, and we came to understand how incredible the body is when it moves. We all have our unique language of movement, and we are excited to explore this further with Tony as we prepare for the Welcome Festival.
Another aspect that has been so rewarding is that students have made connections between their work with Tony, Emily, Darren and Sarah. They have come to understand that all areas of the arts resonate and crossover with one another, and enrich our understanding of our selves, our community, and our world.