Head of Visual Arts
Art educators know the importance of the teacher being present with students, they have the role of mentor and instructor physically present to guide students as they learn techniques and processes and wrestle with the complexities of Visual Arts. We, as teachers, focus on fostering an inclusive and challenging learning environment. However, never did we expect the challenging learning environment of what we do most seamlessly – teaching refined technical processes and engage with the materiality of artmaking – to be via a screen as we did this year.
It was serendipitous that the Visual Arts faculty provided each student in every year with the materials that they would need for their Units of Work. These were taken home in preparation prior to online learning, and were cherished and devoured once FACE Online began. It was during this time that intuition of the learners fully ignited. Students were free to explore the materials in their own way and also found making art and the handling of the materials to be a great reprieve from hours of screen time – they experienced the “pleasure and enjoyment of making artworks”. NSW Visual Arts Syllabus 7-10 Content for Stage 4 pp 30 June 2003.
Many students excelled in lockdown, they had the space and the time to develop their ideas in private. For some, visual exploration can be very confronting amongst other learners or within the domain of the classroom. Lockdown offered a retreat for students to engage their own intuition to make the much-needed mistakes, privately, and without the perceived judgement that some students feel in a cohort. Student find themselves at times held back by the fear of making a mistake, and in Visual Arts, mistakes are visible, or so it seems.
Being present with actual artworks is the most desired way to experience an artwork. Giving formative feedback about artworks in remote learning proved to have its difficulties specifically for Visual Arts, anchored in this was how to discuss the visceral experience of the artwork through digital platforms. In saying this, what became evident was the strength of prior learning that students were able to connect with to inform their new artmaking tasks. The girls had a robust bag of skills that they could draw on and for many students, through a reconnection to the analytical processes, they were able to shine in an extraordinary manner.
Ongoing feedback meant that the girls were left with a significant record of the development of their work; their artworks are able to exist in several stages – the documentation of the work as process will continue to inform the formulation of the ideas and development of skills and application.
Please enjoy the artworks included in this article, savour each and every accomplishment because they are huge. The Visual Arts students stepped up and found agility and adaptability to produce such exceptional work in an unprecedented time.
The Year 11 artworks relate to Landscape ~ Spirit of Place, Year 10 were Cubists in their own home, transforming still-life objects into forms that can be considered from a multiple of viewpoints. Year 9 students were inspired by the great drafts people of the Renaissance, making large scale drawings foreshortened figures, in superb tonal rendering. The Year 8 paper plate prints are from when they returned to school, after remote learning and captured their experience, through the surrealist view of Rene Magritte, in their Unit of Work, Life in Lockdown. Year 7 students entered an imagined dystopia, per kind favour of the Australian illustrator, Shaun Tan. And finally, and importantly, the students from the Primary school have contributed Joie de vivre.
Ms Monica Boardman
Head of Visual Arts