When I returned to teaching primary art after years of education management and curriculum writing I was indulged with the energy, love and creative vitality of the students I worked with.
The opportunity to play and heal together in the art room surpassed my expectations of the value of being active at the coalface of arts education. Being with children inspired my creative practice and fuelled my motivation to make art. It was a mutually beneficial experience, we healed and grew together in spite of the rules and regulations of what has to be done in school.
Our school has over 25 different cultural groups represented and a growing East African enrolment. It is rich and wonderful but often difficult to navigate an ongoing positive experience of belonging for everyone. In my work as a Family Constellations Facilitator, I have been able to maximise the art experience for learning and healing. Family Constellation practice acknowledges that all of our children bring the energy of their families and ancestors to the classroom; sometimes this gets pretty crowded. Working this way can become uncomfortable, traumatic and painful depending upon the degree to which we all feel we belong. In my practice, we use art in its rightful manner to heal; to connect to empower; to speak through a sacred and personal language. This sets up a flow for learning and creative expansion. Part of my practice is to utilise energy in the classroom to address issues and obstacles, resulting in positive outcomes for everyone, including me!
In 2015, our school was fortunate to receive a Creative Victoria grant. We worked with local Australian Indigenous artist Maree Clarke. We engaged the whole school in a celebration of the fusion of art and life. Using traditional craft methods relating to family and the spirit of belonging, we made ‘Our Place’ - a geodesic possum skin dome, adorned with children’s stories of their family’s heritage. The project celebrated the diversity of who we are and collective arts processes became the methodology for learning about history, literacy, social and emotional wellbeing and technology. We worked through our collective grief after our beloved Assistant Principal passed away prior to the initiation of the project. In conclusion, we celebrated with our families at a festival of music and art and today the dome stands as a safe place to lie inside when we feel estranged and to remember we are part of this school family and it is safe to learn here. The art heals our spirit and brings us back to connection, personal, social and cultural.
The project has instigated more opportunities to run after school programs extending Creative Constellation practices, fusing them with arts education. The focus remains on social and emotional wellbeing and the restoration of the celebration of our creative selves. The results are the joy and confidence of children and some pretty wonderful art.
Committee Member of Victorian Association Systemic Constellations
Co opted Board Member of Regional Arts Victoria