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Junior School’s arty side wows Wenona

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We knew something special was coming our way, but the unique and immersive experience that is this year’s Junior School Art Show, complete with its very own Dark Room, blew everyone away when it launched this week.

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Students from Years K to 6 have been working with Art Teacher Miss Lewington throughout the year to create a variety of different pieces. On Wednesday, it all came together at the opening of a stunning exhibition at the Judith Dey Gallery. For parents, grandparents, siblings and peers, it was a memorable experience that engaged them intellectually, emotionally and visually.

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For Bubbles all around, Kindergarten drew inspiration from the unique underwater photography of Australian artist Craig Holmes, as well as the imagery and themes in Jiheyon Lee’s picture book, Pool.

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The resulting artwork – bubble paintings, Geli-printed melamine plates and self-portraits of students as swimmers – all reflected their exploration of the visual effects of water. Kiran, Chase and Charlotte said they’d enjoyed using watercolours and oil pastels, but the best bit was “getting messy” and “doing nice artworks that I love.” Oh and they “loved it when Saffron got paint on her face!”

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For Manjabu and Barramundi, Year 1 explored Indigenous artworks, creating intricately observed sketches of the glittering surface of fish scales.

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They then scanned and sculpted their drawings to form the stunning lines of hooked barramundi that fluttered and shimmered down the gallery walls.

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Grace, Audrey and Siena were particularly impressed with Miss Christofa’s fish! They said their class discussions - ‘What do I see, think and wonder’ - had prompted them to reflect more deeply about the strong relationship that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have with the sea.

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Grace wondered why they used traditional fish traps (manjabu) rather than fishing rods. Audrey wondered how big manjabu were in real life, and Siena wondered why they were round in shape and not square.

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Year 2’s artwork featured bluebottles that floated in undulating swathes across the ceiling overhead.

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Their blue-green tentacles cast a shimmering movement on the reflective silver cardboard that lined the floor below. Matilda, Mia and Grace explained how they’d used droppers to carefully make their bluebottle shapes, using salt to add texture to the watercolour paint.

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In the Dark Room, they’d also created a huge mural, which reflected the intricate patterns and colours of crocodile skin.

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For Patterns of Australian Native Flora, Year 3’s beautifully rendered drawings of Australian flowers were digitally printed onto fabric, which was then made into stools and cushions to be used in the Judith Dey Gallery. Sophia, Coco and Isabella said, “When we saw the fabric for the first time, it was thrilling.”

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In the Dark Room, their large artworks featuring bold geometric shapes, overlaid with white UV paint, decorated a labyrinth of walkways. Shining a torch brought their patterns to life, casting weird and wonderful shapes across the darkness.

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Year 4’s beautifully rendered paint, white pencil and graphite works on circular wooden boards focused on the mangroves and foreshores of the Parramatta River, with the built environment of the early settlers faintly visible in the background.

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Their work was inspired by Indigenous Australian artists Jonathan Jones and Joan Ross, who both explore ideas of colonisation in Australian society. Juliet, Erica and Tanishi said they had also drawn inspiration from the hot and fiery colours of Monet and the peaceful colours of Turner in their artworks.

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Year 5’s Collection of memories explored how collections are built and what they mean. Their drawing, printmaking and poetry hung in concertina ribbons from the ceiling, providing an arresting visual narrative.

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The colour purple in Zara’s artwork was inspired by her cousin who died of brain cancer. Her poem was a moving tribute to her, with a series of beautiful flowers that followed the arc of her story.

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Lily’s artwork was inspired by her family and a very special holiday they’d all shared in the Maldives, complete with intricate turtles and flowers that bloomed, withered and sprang back into life to reflect the passage of time.

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Sarah, whose mum is a curator in an art gallery and is passionate about art, said that her mum had really loved the exhibition.

Year 6’s artwork centred on the theme of migration, beginning with the journey of the tiny bar-tailed godwit bird that leaves Alaska in the northern autumn, taking a direct route across the central pacific to New Zealand. Unlike seabirds, it cannot rest on water or feed at sea, so its 11,000 kilometre journey is the longest non-stop flight undertaken by any bird. Prints of the godwit bird’s tiny feet could be seen across the expanse of red paper that wove its way across the downstairs floor.

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Meanwhile up in the Dark Room, Year 6 had explored the theme of human migration through the creation of a magical white ceramic village, complete with twinkling fairy lights that shone through the buildings’ tiny windows.

Congratulations to all the students for their incredible contributions to this year’s Art Exhibition. And above all, thank you to the Visual Arts Department, and in particular, Ms Hearn for helping to curate the exhibition and Miss Lewington, whose incredible vision has expanded and enriched the way our Junior School students understand, approach and create art.

Amazing!