Sunday Studio: The Inside Story (‘Have fun in art and know you tried your hardest’)

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Wednesday 4 April 2012
Andrea Gaskin

The first session of our 6-8 year olds studio course, cARTography, was a whirlwind of brainstorming, research, gallery discussion and visual map making. After brainstorming a few rules for our group (Poppy’s suggestion to ‘have fun and know you tried your hardest’ rule was unanimously accepted!), we made a mind map of different types of maps (maps of journeys, minds, treasures, streets, countries etc). We also looked at a slideshow of different ways artists have used maps and the concept of mapping in their art practice (making clothes out of maps, painting over maps, charting their own journeys, recording mind maps, changing the text on maps to alter meaning).

Setting off with great gusto into the ground floor exhibition Toi Aotearoa we looked at works by three New Zealand artists.

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Robert Ellis’ painting Motorway/City (1969) prompted an energetic discussion centred around the idea of the bird’s eye view (or ‘aerial photograph’ as noted by George!) of a city.

The children said that it reminded them of being in an aeroplane flying over a city, and that the combination of dark colours with the orange sky made them think it was sunset.

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The children thought that Ruth Watson’s painting Tour of New Zealand (1985) reminded them of a board game as well as trips they had taken around New Zealand.

They easily identified with images of the landscape, and concluded that the work seemed to be about a journey through New Zealand. Benny particularly liked that the path across the painting seemed to make the shapes of the North and South Islands.

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We ended our gallery discussion in front of John Pule’s Take These With You When You Leave (1988). The boats, cars, planes and passports made the children think the work might be about travel and journeys.

We took this idea of mapping a journey back to the studio where the children began a painting of their journey that morning from home to the Auckland Art Gallery. Check out our next blog for some photos of the children’s paintings as they build up their map using pencil, dye, acrylic paint, ink and pen.

We took all those ideas back to the studio to create some fantastic and varied paintings of maps.

In our next studio session we explore the unique art making processes of The Boyle Family as we map our journey around the Gallery!