Awe & Wonder in Nature – Wearable Art Project

Robyn Thompson with her Euroa SC students

Robyn Thompson
This exciting project was based at Euroa Secondary College during Term 3-4 where I was guest artist and Printmaker, working in collaboration with Teaching artist, Suzie Bates and her Year 10 – 12 students. I am based at Dookie where I practice as a Visual Artist and Community Cultural Development Practitioner.
Strathbogie Ranges Conservation invited me to work on this short-term project because of my experience as a Printmaker. Previous work included working with a team of local Aboriginal artists and mentors on the “Kooriez in da hood” program, part of the Cultural Arts course at GOTAFE Shepparton in partnership with Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne.
For this project, I worked with volunteer Helen McKernan and 35 students to produce approximately 100 printed textile pieces over 4 workshop sessions to the given theme of ‘Nature’. Beginning with a workshop on ideas development and introduction to local Indigenous plants established at Euroa Secondary College, the students learnt to develop images, using stencilling methods suitable for screen printing. Some students who had previously been taught stencilling by Suzie Bates were able to progress their skills and produce some quite complex and successful designs and prints. For other students, this was a new skill acquired at introductory level to produce simple, yet effective designs. The final two sessions of printing were a very industrious flurry in the improvised screen print workshop space. Yorta Yorta artist, Kerri Atkinson from Shepparton, who is also a Cultural Arts graduate and printmaker worked with the students to print their final designs and Helen McKernan was a volunteer for student support and photographic documentation.
There were numerous outcomes of this project, which I shared with those who attended the AGM recently and I am really pleased to see that this project was well received. Some of the outcomes are tangible, others more qualitative:

  • All Students engaged in positive, fun and hands-on experience of starting and completing a Wearable Art piece.
  • Students are to be commended for taking on a new experience with a new art tutor, working to the chosen theme of ‘nature’, in a short time frame, learning new printmaking skills and having a completed piece for their art folio.
  • The production of wearable art has given the students more diverse opportunities: a sense of pride and accomplishment, as young people of the region who have ideas and connections to their natural environment, or have been able to brainstorm ideas, if they haven’t made that connection before the project.
  • Skill sharing with art teaching staff in the method of screen printing and resource development in the acquisition of new and improved screen print equipment and materials purchased by the Strathbogie Ranges Conservation for a future community resource.
  • Printed fabric samples can contribute to a ‘community banner’ of printed images for the SRCMN in the future.
  • Social Enterprise skills and development: a student produced a stencil of the SCMN logo, with permission and printed these on some t shirts and fabric. Some discussion with students helped to examine the possibility of a creative enterprise in printing wearable art in the future.
  • Tangible outcomes of potential presentation options in the local area: a selection of textile prints at Euroa Show 2022, as part of Euroa Secondary College display and there has been some discussion of ‘pop-up ‘ displays in local shopfronts.

This project was made possible by the commitment from Suzie Bates and Euroa Secondary School and the innovation from Strathbogie Ranges Conservation and funding from a Landcare Grant ‘Awe and Wonder in Nature’.