Second excursion to Brisbane Forest Park

During our second excursion to Brisbane Forest Park and the Walkabout Creek Visitor Centre, the students did more rubbings of leaves and found objects and I took them for another photography/Perspective Map exercise. They were also directly engaged with the parks rangers in a number of different activities, which they subsequently reflected on in their diaries. The activities are described by teacher Katrina Mills below:

“Again it was a wonderful day with lots of discussion, exploring and laughter.  The students were kept busy with activities organised by the park rangers.

One activity included playing two outdoor games.  In the first game, each child was given an animal; which they then had to try and match with the habitat it would live in.  A great game and the children certainly had lots of fun.

The second game was based on a familiar school game “Clumps,” but rather than using random numbers the rangers had placed mats around the area symbolising trees in a forest.  The children were then told that they were possums and had to find a ‘tree’ to live in but only two possums per tree.  As ‘trees’ were removed (for development, to build homes, etc) the possums were struggling to find enough places to live.  The children quickly began to realise how difficult it was for the possums to find suitable homes.  This game was an innovative way of demonstrating to the children that human activity can have long term effects on wildlife and highlights that we are all responsible for looking after our environment and the animals we share it with.

Another activity was a ranger talk and an introduction to three animals – a turtle, a lizard and a possum. The final activity was a fantastic puppet show which again emphasised the importance of caring for our parks. A great success!”

Katrina Mills

PHOTOS from the artworks and excursion are forthcoming!!!

Thaumatropes of Winged Creatures

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Most of the children have now completed their Thaumatrope drawings. These drawings are based on a template sheet that I made. This uses a branch on one side, inspired by Joel M.’s thaumatrope discussed here in an earlier post. The children were asked to draw a winged creature on the other circle, and they could develop the branch or winged creature as they wished. They also have a second pair of circles if they wish to make a second Thaumatrope, with whatever content they desire. The variety of ‘winged creatures’ is pretty impressive, ranging from birds to insects, planes and more creative, imaginative creatures… even some that could be Forest Creatures like the assemblage they are currently animating. The results are shown below. I will update this post with the remaining students’ images who haven’t done theirs yet, over the next couple of weeks.

Over the coming weeks they will be cutting out the circles and gluing them onto the sticks to make the completed Thaumatropes. For sticks we will be using unsharpened, round pencils…

Day 8: Typologies, Perspective maps and Composites

One of the exercises I had prepared for the students, and a primary reason for acquiring the digital cameras, was the creation of what I term “Perspective Maps”. These draw on the Typologies of the Bechers, mentioned earlier. However, instead of comparing different instances of the same object type (watertower or gas tank, for example), the perspective maps compare different perspectives of the same object. They are intended to reveal the different ways we see the same thing; our different perspectives. This is, in a sense, an inversion of how the Bechers’ typologies function. That is, in their work the ideal form of the object – the idea of what a water tower is, for example – is being compared. On the other hand in the Perspective maps it is the subjectivity of the observer that is being compared.

In our perspective maps we are studying the different ways we – people – see the forest. So we are photographing trees. The children’s differences in perspective include looking up, looking down, standing far away to take the whole tree in, photographing it up close to focus on the texture, etc. All of these are different perspectives of the same object.

The perspective maps investigate the different ways we all see the same thing. They are group efforts at making a composition. Like the Bechers, the approach taken is quite clinical:

  1. Divide into groups of 10-15 students
  2. Each group to choose a tree. This was done during the walk on our excursion to Walkabout Creek in The Gap on 28 July.
  3. Take turns photographing this tree. Thus each person takes one photograph of it. This choice of vantage point and composition is a personal, private step.
  4. Consolidate all the photographs into a matrix. Study and compare these to understand and discuss this tree, our understandings of this tree and of nature. Discussions of composition within the frame, such as decisions made by the photographer, are also facilitated by this process.

During our excursion we broke into 3 groups. The 3 Perspective maps are shown below.

      

Composites

During the process of assembling the perspective maps I also had the idea of compositing, or layering them on top of one-another. The resulting 3 images are, I think quite successful aesthetically. They are shown below.

We discussed all of these in class on Thursday 4th August. Our discussion reviewed how each of these composite images reveals something about the perspective maps – whether its pulling out distinct features such as the sillhoutte of the trunk and strangler fig vine in group 3 or the fan palm fronds as a texture in group 2 or a combination of these in group 1’s maps.

 

Perhaps it was inevitable, but I didn’t see it coming: during this class discussion one of the students said she wondered what would happen if we were to combine ALL the images (i.e. all the children’s photos of all 3 different trees)?? I quickly combined them there and then, and we discussed the result. It is also shown below. The students commented on how it was ‘blurry’ and I agreed that often things can turn ‘muddy’ when you mix too many elements, or colours… Some other students however asserted that they could still see all of the individual elements of sillhouetted trunks and the textures made by contrasting leaves and sunlight. Upon reflection now it occurs to me that colour palette is another aspect of these different compositions that prevailed and provided visual unity – the same could not be said if some of the maps were of urban images or taken at sunrise or in the moonlight.

Class reflections on “Rivers and Tides”

 

What did we learn or gain from this video? The following are some notes from Jackie’s discussion with the class about my presentation of the Andy Goldsworthy documentary video, “Rivers and Tides” [see also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TWBSMc47bw]. Some are Jackie’s comments but mostly they are the children’s comments on what they learnt from the video:

  • enjoyment of making art
  • confidence in making art
  • if you do it slowly, it gets more detailed and if you rush it won’t look as good
  • inspired by the work
  • That art isn’t always about having to paint it. You can use nature to do it.
  • “what about Permanency – does it have to last forever?” No…
  • Time in nature itself. “Although he looked at his watch, he was also using the tides of nature, the time of nature, to challenge him”
  • “It was good to see adults getting challenged. Learnt about perseverance.” Adults never get challenged “- yes we do! “
  • Didn’t use tools to do it. Use nature to make it. And all the elements… as shown in the whiteboard snapshot above..
This effort was extended and developed in class on day 8 when the students were asked to reflect further on this presentation by writing about it in their diaries.

Teacher reflections on Plant-a-Tree day

plant a tree day logo

“As part of Planet Ark’s National School Plant-a-Tree day on Friday 29th July, 2011, our Montessori Cycle Two class invited a number of guests to celebrate this day with us including:

  • The Honourable Mr Geoff Wilson, the Member for Ferny Grove and the Health Minister of QLD;
  • Mr Kent Eisling, the Faculty Director of Services and Environment, Grovely TAFE;
  • Ms Lee Durkin, Grovely TAFE;
  • Ms Jen Seevinck, our Artist in Residence at Grovely State School;
  • Mrs Vicki Baker, the Principal of Grovely State School; and
  • Parents and community members.

A number of children were tasked with greeting our invited guests, welcoming and opening our ceremony, introducing and thanking each of our guests, thanking the P and C for their donation of our tree, assisting Mr Wilson to plant our feature tree and finally extending an invitation to enjoy some light refreshments. The event was a great success.  Thank you to those parents who: were able to provide a plate of food or were able to attend the ceremony, your support is always appreciated.

Kind regards,

Miss Katrina Mills”

Photographs of the teachers and students efforts on this day are below. Minister Geoff Wilson also discusses the event on his website.

 

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Day 5: Excursion No. 2 to Walkabout Creek, The Gap

Our full day excursion to walkabout creek involved doing rubbings of found objects, doing tai-chi and studying the wildlife. It also involved a visit to the wildlife centre.

Our excursion also involved going for a walk in the forest. We went part-way along the Aracuria track. Many different things were observed during this walk and we reflected on these and our wildlife centre experiences in our visual diaries.

Some of the animals encountered, things we saw or experienced are shown below. Many more images are on page 2.

Child reflections on the day Along the track we see Enogerra reservoir in the distance

Child working on Perspective Map 1  (Left) Child working on Perspective Map 1.

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Day 4: Forest Creature Sculptures Stage 1

This week students took one of their found objects from our first excursion to the Kedron Brooke area, and developed this into wings. I had them trace this object on the fold of some tracing paper, then cut out and “work it up” into a set of symmetrical wings. This could involve gluing some broken leaves in between the papers; an effect that will enhance the wings and refer to the ‘membrane’ quality of insect wings such as cicadas that we had looked at in class. This is particularly the case when the çreatures’ are animated, since they will be backlit during the process, creating a delicate, transparent quality to the wings. This also resonates with some of the students experiences with dappled light coming through the quandong leaves during their first excursion (described in an earlier post “Teacher Reflections” by teacher Jackie Semple).

The process of making the wings also involved preparing them for subsequent animation. I had prepared some wire armatures and so these were also glued to the inside of the wings. We will use stop motion animation techniques later on to move the wings by moving the armatures.

The completed wings will be added to the original traced object. Thus each creature involves using a natural form in different ways, repeating its shape. So we are building on previous investigations of symmetry to create repetition and in working with repetition of elements we contribute to that creature’s visual unity and harmony. This is one way in which I’m introducing them to compositional concepts (i.e. unity, harmony, repetition).

We are also building on previous investigations of the value of found objects (natural objects) with which to make art, and how interpretation and ways of seeing play a role in selecting these, recognising them, and in making and appreciating art.

Examples of student wings are below. Here the glue is still drying, hence the pegs! You can also see how one pair of wings that were created using a Bohenia leaf are transparent when held against the sunlight.

Day 2: Teacher Reflections on our first excursion

Several children tied in their work with shadows that they have been doing in science (working with sundials).  They held their leaves up to the dappled lights from the trees and played with the blocks of shadow shapes made with their hands.

Quite a few children were interested in the writing instruments which led to discussions on the history of writing and how humans could have communicated to each other- what tools they could have used ( this leads in beautifully to our cosmic education great lessons!).

One child also discovered a beautiful brown garden spider camouflaged on a piece of bark from the tree –  the children discussed that the forest belonged to the animals so they helped me carefully ensure that it was safe in its natural environment.   Several children also noticed the soil slowly filling up their containers after coming dislodged from the Quandong seeds.  This led to the discussion of the importance of soil to plants and animals in the forest.

Some children debated whether or not they were considered a part of nature or were separate from of which of course I am sure will stimulate further debate in the classroom.

Thanks for a successful first excursion!

Cheers,

Jackie.

SAVE THE DATE! Final exhibition date set for 10.9.11

The culminating show at the end of our project has now been confirmed to happen on Saturday 10 September 2011! This will be at Walkabout Creek Visitor Centre on Mount Nebo Rd in The Gap. More details will follow, but essentially the show will include an installation of the interactive art work “Forest Reflections” and the children’s visual diaries.

This embodies our project’s philosophy of ‘beginning in the forest and ending in the forest’