Last week we had the amazing opportunity to spend the whole week with 3 environmental artists. I must admit I had to ask the question myself, What is an environmental artist? The answer as I understand it, as I saw it in action over the week, is an artist who uses material from the environment to make their art.
These three artists came to Kununurra with a two-pronged objective. One to make a art piece that could be used to life public and political awareness of the approach of the Cane Toad and all the problems and devastation that will bring. Secondly, to spend time with the homeschoolers exposing them to environmental art experiences.
They certainly did that! In spending time with these three talented people our children were exposed to more than art in nature, they were exposed to the thought that they could have a voice they could write letters to politicians etc, they were exposed to a hard work ethic, there were many other subjects that were touched on such as sciences, technology, enterprise. The childrens eyes were opened to the little details of nature. They had a session were they were inspired to write by listening to music the music itself had been inspired by the sounds of nature. The week experiences challenged and inspired the children in so many areas, wide and deep, that it is hard to list them all here.
The first day we went to a spot along the river. It was good shade cover, lots of leaf matter on the ground, lots of fallen sticks and twigs. But we were soon to discover there were a lot more goodies from nature if only we opened our eyes and expanded our imagination! The first activity, the children were divided into two teams and each team was to build a footpath, using foot square blocks of various bits from nature. For example, the first block was a pile of leaves, the second was twigs laid out in a cross hatch pattern, the next block boab nuts pushed into the ground, the next small pebbles, the next It was amazing how many different textures were found in the bush. The children then had to lead the other team, blindfolded, over the path they had built. The other team had to guess what the material was under their feet (bare feet please!) The rest of the day was spent drawing in the dirt, representing various elements of the environment, and various scenarios should the Cane Toad get this far west.
Day 2 was at yet another really localised spot Hidden Valley. In amongst the very Kimberley Rocks was found 3 natural classrooms. The group was divided into three groups. One group spent time working with rhythm and music, another group reproduced what they saw in front of them into a miniature using the rocks and twigs around them (the built mini caves, hideouts, and animals), and the third group used the different soils and charcoals to make contrasting stencils, rubbings and drawings. The groups rotated through the morning. The day finished with a group activity. Picking up all the loose blue blue metal from the bitumen road they made a picture of a cane toad/frog, around the outside they found white quarts, which made a startling, outline. This was all put together on the red dirt of the car park. Outstanding piece of art! And put together by seeing that there were three coloured stones in the roadwork red, blue and white.
Day 3 we drove 4 wheel driving to a local water hole. The drive in itself was an adventure. My kids congratulated me in getting everyone there in one piece. I must admit I dont like 4 wheel driving especially if I am behind the wheel! But we got there and it was all fun.
Our tasks for this day and the next were more collaborative whatever we worked on was going to be completed by the community group in that evening. Kids had to paint rocks with clay, they collected many, many little rocks, they collected cane grass and wrapped them into bundles, they made a raft the shape of a cane toad; I am sure there were many other little tasks that were completed this day.
Day 4 back at Middle Springs to put it all together. The children had to overcome hard work, in hot conditions. They didnt own any one task each so they had to work together on the big project. This was very rewarding when it all came together and a helicopter flew over to photograph the whole project.
Day 5 was a quiet day at our house. Karen (one of the mums) led the kids in a nature drawing exercise. Then after morning tea one of the artists had the kids listening to music, which was inspired by sounds in nature, and as they listened they wrote what came to their minds. Some had rivers, some had forests, and some had animals. Later in the day Jessica wrote a beautiful paragraph from her list of thoughts. During the day both Josh and Nomi wrote a poem, which came out of our weeks studies. Joshuas was epic 3 page long story of a battle between a goanna and the cane toad. Nomis was a little ditty with rhythm.
We wrapped up our week by having a quick picnic together and seeing a video that had been put together covering our week. The sound track to this video was the song that the middle age group had written and produced! Very cool!