Transcript of Visual arts Stage 5 dive

This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity. Listen to the podcast (26:11)

Jackie – The following podcast is brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. As we commence this podcast today, let us acknowledge the traditional custodians of all the lands on which this podcast will be played around New South Wales. Their art, storytelling, music and dance along with all first nations people hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia. Let us acknowledge with honour and respect our elder's past, present and future, especially those Aboriginal people in our presence today who have and still do guide us with their wisdom. Welcome to the Creative Cast podcast series, I'm Jackie King and I'm a Creative Arts Project Officer with the New South Wales Department of Education. Today we're having a visual arts subject chat led by our Visual Arts Advisor Kathrine Kyriacou, who is chatting to Danielle Leonello from Camden High School, and Carol McGilvery, who is Head Teacher, Creative and Performing Arts at Kincumber High School.

Kathrine – Thanks, Jackie. It's a pleasure to join you. I'm going to start today by just asking our two amazing visual arts teachers to tell me a little bit about where they teach and about their department. So, we might start with you Carol.

Carol – Hello. Hi, Kathrine, Danielle and Jackie. I teach at a comprehensive high school on the Central Coast of New South Wales at Kincumber High School. It's a fairly large high school. We have 1021 students enrolled this year. We also have 48 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The CAPA faculty at Kincumber High School, is quite an active and dynamic faculty. We have five visual arts teachers, two music teachers, a drama teacher and a dance teacher, and the faculty is very well valued by the school community. Visual Arts is a popular choice as an elective in Stage five and Stage six this year. In year 11, we have two year 11 visual arts classes, we've had two year 12 classes in 2020. We also run two unit photo and digital media in Stage six, and we also run Stage five photo media as well. And next year, for the first time, we have a year 11 visual design course, starting in Stage five. So that's the summary of my context at Kincumber.

Kathrine – Thanks, Carol. It does sound like you've got a really dynamic department and a lot going on, I'm looking forward to hearing more. Danielle, can you tell us a little bit about you're setting? I know that you're in Sydney.

Danielle – Sure. Hi, everyone. So, I work at Camden High School, and it's a school in the Sydney Southwest region. It's quite a large school with around 1100 students and I have a small portion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at my school. In terms of visual arts, we have three visual arts teachers, and visual arts is quite popular. So, in 9 and 10, we have two visual arts classes, one photography class and in 10, we have the same as well. And we always run senior classes as well. So, it is quite a popular subject.

Kathrine – So, Carol, can you tell me the unit of work you're going to share with us? What is it called? And where does it fall in your scope and sequence?

Carol – Sure Kathrine. The unit of work I will share with you today is called- My World, my story- an art making gig hosted by Grayson Perry.

Kathrine – Okay, I love that title.

Carol – We have a focus on conceptual framework in this unit and we address the conceptual framework on number of levels in this particular unit. So having that concept of the world in the title is really important to sort of set the scene for the students in terms of their thinking and their approach to their art making. The unit is the second unit in the scope and sequence in year nine and so we start off in Year 9 elective Visual Arts with a unit on illustration. In that sort of pop art and manga and comic illustration. And then we move into this unit, my world, my story, uh, inspired by Grayson Perry and art making gig inspired by Grayson Perry as a ceramics and a three-dimensional unit. We also look at Hermannsburg, Potters, and we look at a British artist called Kate Malone as well in this unit. I haven't heard of Kate Malone. Kate Malone is a fabulous contemporary ceramic artist who also hosts A Great Pottery Throw Down.

Kathrine – Oh, I know that show.

Carol – Yeah, she's been one of the judges on that show, and I didn't know her either until i sat and watched his show. But I've put some research into her. So this unit, it's about the students looking at the science and the symbols in their world and creating a narrative around the vessel of a classically inspired part that tells us a story about the student's world.

Kathrine – I can see how Grayson Perry connects to that unit of work. Then talk to me briefly about Grayson Perry. Obviously, I love that he's in your unit of work for Year Nine. He's a bit of a racy choice. How do you handle that?

Carol – We're very careful. We filter through Grayson's work, and he's sort of his identity and his approach very carefully. We look at some sort of high quality resources to present to the students about Grayson and there's some fantastic, The Tate Modern in the UK produces some fantastic Tate shots, little YouTube type gigs that are very accessible to the students. There's a lovely one on his studio and how he manages his kilns. And yes, so we're very careful with the plates that we select to discuss with the students because he does tackle some big issues in his artworks, and some of them are not always use a friendly for us as educators. So yeah, Grayson, he's a lot of fun, and his dress ups and his whole persona is lovely for the kids to have a look up to be inspired by.

Kathrine – So, I'm already hearing that what's happening in art history criticism is informing what's happening in art making for your Year 9 students. Can you just talk me through some of the methods and techniques that you're actually passing on to students in that unit of work?

Carol – Yeah, sure. So, Kathrine, we look at some of the ancients in this unit. So, we look at sort of ancient Greek, black and red figure ware, and we look at the narratives around those ancient vessels. We also look at some contemporary illustrators to see sort of some school to work options, but also to have a look at how science and symbols they used in sort of Children's storybook illustration before the students brainstormed their own world and work out what sort of type of subject matter they might use on the belly of their own pot, their own vessel. Look at Harry McClairy and we look a Diary of the Wombat as a way to look out at different approaches to illustration and how to decode those illustrations.

And then the students, they create their own symbolic narrative about their own world. We look at Audrey Coleman and Bruce Whiteley as illustrators, and from that, then we springboard into the concept of the conceptual framework, and the students sort of reverse the conceptual framework in terms of the students filling the conceptual framework out on themselves first as a method of art making inspiration. So, for example, we provide the writing grid on the conceptual framework and asked the students to tell us as much each about their own world as they're prepared to share with us. So, we look at things like hobbies and activities and passions and interests, and the students will fill out the world section on the conceptual framework. And from that, uh, then we would springboard into sort of a brainstorm on a visual representation of their world on then construct that through the inspiration from the children's book ideas and conventions in those Children's books that we had looked at.

Kathrine – Sounds fantastic. I'd love to see some of them. Here is a question for you, one of the tricky things is handling the size of ceramic works and the kiln room and firing everything. I know people are going to be listening and wanting to know how do you manage that? Then, if you've got maybe two year nine classes, all doing ceramics at once, what's your tip?

Carol – At Kincumber High school we're a little bit lucky because, we're like bower birds in our faculty, every time we see something out on the rubbish pile, we all are going collect things. So, over the years, so I've been there for nine years, we've collected so many trolleys that other faculties, little like push trollies, that the other faculties have thrown out. And we used these trolleys.

I think in the kiln room today there were, there may have been seven trolleys full of ceramic work, so we put all of our ceramic work and we store it in the kiln room a lot of the time, and this way it's sort of it's it's protected, you know, the kids, it's a closed space. We don't have a lot of things that break and are damaged because we have these funky trolleys in faculty that we just drive around all the time. We have little labels on, and that's your your trolly, that's my troll, these sort of things.

Kathrine – That's fantastic. Good. A good but perhaps tricky to replicate tip. Carol.

Carol – Yes, we all need to be searching through other departments and searching the streets.

Kathrine – Yeah, can you tell me in terms of that program, and I know we were going to move over to Danielle in a minute. But in terms of that program, um, are there things that you have thought that's really successful? And is there anything that you've changed over the years?

Carol – The aspects that are really successful are that the students really appreciate being taught the diversity off ceramic surface. So, we look at as many different sorts of unusual ceramic surface techniques is possible that we can incorporate in this particular unit. So, the students will start off with painting their designs on with a series of coloured slips and under glazes. And then the work will be fired very slowly. I'm always talking about firing technique in in the staff room and making sure that the ramp rate is really slow that we make sure that things get fired well. But after it's fired and the glazing process is starting to occur, we add tissue transfers onto the surface for the students, so we show how to use those particular techniques, under glaze pencils and then we glaze the surface and then after the glaze surface, then we show the kids how to use Luster's, so they have these gold, really beautiful vessels. But at the end of the project, they've got all these golden sparkly things.

Kathrine – Oh, that's so good. It sounds like a beautiful unit. It's really lovely start into visual arts. Yeah, beautiful. I need, it's hard with the podcast, I need some visuals. I'd love to see some of it. It sounds really amazing. Do you do any ceramics Danielle? I know this isn't what you're going to discuss.

Danielle – So, I like to hook in my student semester one in Year 10 and we do a ceramics unit around Surrealism, and they really love doing that as well. I mainly use oxides under glazing glazes, and you've mentioned a pen in yours and I want to go and order one because they sound really great. You know, we all need to steal some of those technical, take a couple ideas from you, Carol.

Carol – We actually used to do ceramics since Serialism at our school too Danielle. We used to do it a surreal tea party, which was fun.

Kathrine – Danielle, I know you're going to talk to me about one of your units. Do you want to, go back over it and if you could just tell me a little bit about what your unit is called?

Danielle – We just call that unit Frames Keyword Artwork because it's really driven by students given a range of keywords, each relating to the frames. So it's also improving their vocabulary as well, when they go to write about the frames, and they choose one of those words and they design a body of work based around that word. This unit's position in semester two of the Year 10. So in the scope, they've already done so many detailed and structured activities that are developing their drawing skills in portrait in year nine and then still life painting, surreal ceramics and so this unit's just trying to prepare them to think like a single student and to try and drive a body of work about something they're really interested in. So that that's basically mine in a little nutshell.

Kathrine – Oh, that sounds really, really interesting. So, in terms of the content, how do you divide it up? Is there a period whether the students are.. so they're going to create a mini body of work? Is there a period where they're researching?

Danielle – Yeah, Yeah, yeah, yes. So, I always thought of this unit because by this time they have a really strong understanding off the subjective, structural and cultural frames. And we do touch on postmodernism throughout so this really gives them such a concrete understanding of what it is. So I love to start off with, um, postmodern artists. This year I introduced Tony Albert because I saw this amazing video about his artwork called the Brothers the Prodigal Son, and that was made out of glass and lead. And it was like a stained glass window. And I really loved it. So topical. Yeah, and it was so topical for the time with the black lives matter, movement in America and that's really come through here is well, so I just thought like, I think I saw it in the next day. I was like, I have to add that to my program. So, I started off with Tony Albert, but and I taught students how to create a postmodern art work. We've already, like, touched on that before, but I gave them some restrictions. Like some guides. Yeah, some guidelines. So, I gave them, like a traditional stained glass window shape.

They could have researched their own one, but I gave them one of those, and I showed them how to break it down into different segments. And they had to include at least one object or figure. And it was to explore a current issue they felt has been overlooked. And they were very small artworks in their VAPDs. And this is a preliminary? Yeah, a sorry, this is quite detailed. I'm sorry. This'll is one of the first things that we do and some students actually use that idea for all their body of work. So, they will push that idea and make it larger and developed the technique more and so a couple of students actually did this year. So, I introduced the postmodern frame through Tony Albert. And then we look at Daniel Boyd's artwork We call them Pirates out here, and again, we're looking at the role of truth and overlooked histories and reconciliation. And that's something that we really like to bring to the forefront at our school. And we have a heavy focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories. Um, and we do like a sorting activity with the frames. And of course, looking at the conceptual framework. Well, so then I look at the guerrilla girls.

Kathrine – Some of my favourite artist, Danielle. And you know, I think this is the beauty of the way that the syllabus works. You know, when you have a passion for these artists and these ideas, you are actually able then to interject and find spaces to get those things to the students. And I can tell already from your excitement. I love looking at that. You convey that really well. Yeah. So, the Guerrilla Girls....

Danielle – Yeah. So we look at the Guerrilla Girls. I showed them one of their interviews, and I think that's the moment they really understand postmodernism when they look at you know how outraged the Guerrilla girls were at the representations of women and other cultures in galleries and how underrepresented they are, and they become outraged themselves. And I I just love it. So, it's just I just that so that's what I started because they've already looked at the other frames. I really focused on that postmodern of frame. So, then I give students 12 keywords and three of those words related to each frame to, for example, for the subjective frame. There's the words sensations inner world and identity. Another example is in the postmodern frame. There are words like power parody and appropriation. I find these keywords really stick with the students, and it helps them even write about artworks later because as soon as they think of these different frames, these key words come to mind.

Kathrine – I love Danielle that you you're about to give them a period where they have got some freedom and they're going to have a go at making a bit of mini body of work. But it's also carefully structured, and there are guidelines around how they can move within that space because I sometimes think students tend to be able to start work more quickly and be more successful when those guidelines and structures that actually there, um, they do actually help them help them to make progress. I really like that.

Danielle – Yeah, and to support students as well, I showed them work samples from previous years, and they saw and they organized, they look at the body of work and try and allocated to one of the key words. So a concrete example of, you know, what it could look like.

Kathrine – Can you talk to me a little bit about how your art, historical critical studies feed into the art making? So, are they researching artists that relate to their specific frame?

Danielle – Absolutely, Absolutely. So, in the beginning I ask students to choose one of their key words, and it really that goes off flexible. They got instinct. What were they drawn to? What would they like to pursue? Then we go into the computer room and we do some research around that keyword, and they find some inspirational artworks sort of like a mood board. And that's when I'll directly guide them to an artwork or an artist. And I say, Oh, that sounds a lot like this person. Or, you know, why don't you look into this or even focusing on technique or concept. And it really does help their research come along because they are still in Year 10. So, I do that in year 11 and 12 as well, but definitely they would need that supporting in Year 10. Yes, so once they have that research and I give them three weeks to research because that that foundation is really important for them, to experiment with ideas, and I also encourage them to take their own photographs relating to their key word. And that might help spark, you know, some imagery in their body of work. So, I we do three weeks of that. And then it's three weeks off technique development, as I mentioned earlier in the scope, they have already been exposed to many different art making techniques in very structured ways, so they would already be confident in if they want to do pursue drawing or painting or ceramics. There are occasionally some students who don't feel confident in those areas still, or, perhaps they haven't shown as much development in those areas, and I work with them to create a photographic and digital media artwork. So, I'll take those students who is really aren't sure what to do. And I give them some Photoshop tutorials in how to explore their ideas online.

Kathrine – Wow, this is a, uh, a really broad and kind of challenging unit, and it's a unit that really brings together, I know you said it's at the end of the year 10 course, so it's really bringing together all of their knowledge and understanding from really year seven to year 10 and letting them show what they can do at the end of that point, which is, you know, you're putting quite a bit of trust in them. I love the idea. What's the... What have you changed about that unit?

Danielle – So, yeah, I'm definitely structured. How much time to spend at each point, and I have very high expectations of once I've spoken to a student and we've discussed, you know, perhaps you could research this artist, or take a photograph of this. I really do have that expectation the next time I see them, it'll be complete because that's the only way, we're going to progress and get to this point. So I've really implemented very clear markers for success where we should be as its very structured. Another thing that I've implemented, as I mentioned earlier again, is I If I see an amazing artist, I'll just add them to the unit. So that's something I changed this well, and I give the markets as well in terms of when they actually working on the body of work, I've given them idea of size, so I say an A2 size or an equivalent so if they're making a series of small works, I give them the idea of how big it needs to be. Yeah, but mainly what I think successful in this unit is at the end of every unit I teach I ask students to evaluate it on. They all say, like they all say they love that they could choose their concept and they could what We have a bit of guidance, but they could choose their concept and work in the medium they feel most confident in.

Kathrine – So that's what I think, the success of this unit is and you know what? There's actually a bit of a similarity there between the unit of work that you teach and the unit of work that Carol's shared with us because her work, you know, in a sense, although it's quite a different material, it also is about including the student's world and letting them tell their own story, which, you know, wasn't a deliberate thing that we bought together. But you both are drawing on that in your classroom, which, you know, we all know definitely helps with engagement. Thanks so much both of you for sharing an outline of those units.

Danielle – Thank you.

Carol – It's an absolute pleasure.

Kathrine – I know that you both have mentioned the whole range of artists today and maybe a few technical terms, and I'm going to just be a bit cheeky and say, would you mind if we made a little list in the statewide staff room of some of those artists names and some of those terms so that anyone who listens to the podcast might be able to come back and see them there?

Danielle – Yeah, that's fine, Kathrine. I'd be so happy to share all of that. Thank you.

Carol – No problem. Yeah, I'd be more than happy to.

Kathrine – Oh, thank you both so much. Look, I could keep talking to you for ages, but we can't Lots and lots of ideas. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

Jackie – This podcast was brought to you by the Creative Arts Curriculum Team from Secondary Learners Educational Standards Directorate of the New South Wales Department of Education. Get involved in the conversation by following Creative Arts curriculum 7 to 12 on Facebook or Twitter or join the Creative Arts Statewide Staff Room as a source of all truths regarding curriculum supported by the new South Wales Department of Education. You can contact the Creative Arts Advisor Cathryn Ricketts Horvat, or Creative Arts Project Officer Jackie King using the email address creativearts7-12@det.nsw.edu.au . The theme music for this podcast was composed by Alex Manton, and audio production by Jason King.


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