Over the two months I conducted a series of workshops at Comet Care School as part of an arts grant provided by the City of Joondalup.
Comet School provides an alternative to mainstream school, in which students can complete their education in a flexible, fun and supportive environment.
Instead of using the grant to only paint a mural at the school, I wanted to engage with the students and create the mural with them and for them, over a ten week period.
Each week I would attend the school and encourage the students to come up with ideas for the final mural piece. It didn’t take me long to realise that the students had some great and entertaining ideas, but were also were brimming with talent.
Im not a fan of strict guidelines and certain art styles aren’t for everyone can cause isolation. So during the workshops I incorporated as many styles or methods that I could, to keep things interesting and draw the students into a preferred or undiscovered style. Drawing, painting, Drip painting, dot painting and aerosol all played a role. Whatever was fun and worked, we tried it.
Some days certain students weren’t available, so I kept a group painting of Banjo (standard practise) as a side project for those who wanted to have a go at painting, even if they weren’t apart of the mural project.
The ideas we came up with for the mural centred around identity and culture. We started off with a loose plan for a final piece but by week eight the plan was scrapped almost entirely as we started to implement dot painting and explore new ideas. Who needs a plan when you have kickass, enthusiastic students at the helm?
One of the highlights for me was learning about dot painting concepts from one of the talented students – Leighton. He taught me a about it's history and inherent symbology, which ended up being the main feature of one of the final pieces.
On the final day Sharon (the co-ordinator) showed the council a powerpoint presentation which included some very exciting outcomes from the workshop:
(taken directly from the powerpoint findings)
For the purpose of the project attendance between term 2 prior to delivery and term 3 of students who enagaged were measured.
• Data for term two, students achieved an attendance of an average of 60%.
• During the term three up to week five of the project, the attendance had risen to 70%.
• A total of 43 students had the opportunity to engage in this project
Confidence in engaging with art
• Five students whom had never previously expressed or demonstrated an interest in Art, are now drawing freely in their art notebook.
Expressed emotions through art
• A further four students identified they now had the opportunity to express their feeling utilising their art notebooks.
A sense of pride and achievement
• Many students requested to be photographed using their personal phones proving a sense of pride and achievement.
• Students had the opportunity to work with other peers, whom they never previously had the opportunity too. Relationships were built or enhanced
Workshops are one of my passions as it allows me to show others how art as a tool, can break barriers, give confidence, engage creativity and sometimes even give someone a new purpose.
Big shout out to Sharon for all your help and the rest of Comet School for being such legends. Hopefully I'll be back again one day!