Due to the interest in our first Visual Culture and Visual Arts PD, we offered another session to Early Childhood Teachers this past weekend (Saturday, 26th April).
While the content of the programme differed from the first (due to maintenance occurring in the Ngā Toi | Arts Te Papa gallery space), we maintained the same goal – to build teacher knowledge, skill and confidence in engaging and responding to art with young children. We were led again by the wonderful Lisa Terreni, Visual Arts specialist and Senior Lecturer at Victoria University.
The session started with exploring ephemeral art, using cuisenaire rods – traditionally a mathematics learning aid. Our participants created some wonderful pieces of 2D and 3D temporary art with this ‘on hand’ material:
We followed this experience with discussion and a short lecture by Lisa. It was interesting to learn that cuisenaire blocks have been the subject of New Zealand artist, Michael Parekowhai’s work. Among others, his piece Atarangi (1990) can be seen as a celebration of the Te Ataarangi method of adult Māori language learning.
We all agreed that we could see links between our creations and Milan Mrkusich’s Buildings (1955) too – the subject of our first guided exercise in the gallery.
We imagined what we would see, hear, smell, taste and touch if we were inside the painting. Tall buildings, fresh grass, exhaust fumes, coffee and concrete all came up in our korero (talk). We then spent some time with Alan Reynold’s Saga (1956) , exploring how storytelling can be used in the gallery context.
We applied what we had learnt through group work in the Art of the 20th century and WOW Factor exhibitions. Teachers came up with some excellent ideas for pre-visit and post-visit activities relating to the pieces Oval Form (Trezion) (1964) by Barbara Hempworth, and Little girl (circa 1956) by Sydney C. Harpley. Looking for oval forms in nature, drawing without lifting the pencil, posing for portraits, vintage dress up, and exploring the links between body language and emotion were among some of my favourites.
Back in the classroom, Lisa showed us a slide show of images from a series of Auckland Early Childhood Centres (The Grange, Tots Corner, and St Andrew’s Epsom). All three have very active arts programmes, and one in particular (Tots Corner), has a particular emphasis on using recycled materials for their assemblages and 3D construction work. This tied in really well with our art response – creating creatures and plants to live in the painting Saga! The activity was made that little bit trickier without access to joining materials like sellotape, staples or blue tack! Creative problem solving ensued!
Here are a selection of the finished pieces:
This session, like the last, went really well, and a lot of valuable learning took place. Thank you to all of our participants – I look forward to seeing you and your tamariki (children) in the galleries soon!