Great Lakes students ride community connection wave

Surfboards repurposed into canvases helped turn a shopping centre into an art space, writes Sven Wright.

11 August 2021
A young girl stands behind a brightly painted surfboard.
Image: Wave of colour: Lilly Thomas, Year 6, with one of the surfboards.

Primary and secondary students in the Great Lakes Learning Community in the Forster – Tuncurry area know success at school is tied to the support of their families and the wider community.

That’s why they asked Stockland Forster if they could help them show shoppers from across the region what the local schools stand for.

A Learning and Support teacher at Forster Public School, Elizabeth Maher, said the students felt a shopping centre was the ideal place for a showcase.

“There’s space to exhibit, and a huge passing audience, many of whom will have time to stop and reflect,” said Ms Maher.

“With the centre management on board, all we needed to find was a medium, and what represents the mid North Coast’s lifestyle and attitude better than a surfboard?”

With surfboards donated or found at the local tip, and with the help of staff and local artists, the students produced an array of surfboard artworks with images and motifs reflecting their school and community.

Indigenous imagery, beach culture, marine life, the natural environment and local personalities were all represented in the artworks.

“Displaying the boards during Education Week in the last week of July was the ideal opportunity to build on other events to heighten community awareness of local schools’ work,” said Ms Maher.

“We’re certainly hoping to strengthen our relationship with the shopping centre.”

The schools in the Great Lakes Learning Community are the Bungwahl, Hallidays Point, Forster, Nabiac, Tuncurry and Pacific Palms Public Schools, and the Forster and Tuncurry Campuses of Great Lakes Secondary College.

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