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In the July holidays, 38 Creative Arts students from Years 10 and 11 headed off to Amsterdam, Paris and New York, accompanied by Ms Jalili, Ms McNally, Mr Newall and Ms Carson.
They arrived to moderate summer temperatures in Amsterdam, a city filled with spellbinding art and architecture, canals and bicycles. As the students discovered, there are more than 800,000 bikes in the centre of Amsterdam, making it one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. And of course, water is such an intrinsic part of Amsterdam that an obligatory canal cruise was the perfect way to see the 17th century merchant houses, the innumerable bridges, historic churches and picturesque houseboats.
A visit to the Jewish Museum was a sobering reminder of the persecution of the Jews during the war, as well as discrimination in general.
2019 marks the 350th anniversary of the death of the greatest master of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt. The students had the good fortune to see a wide variety of his paintings at The Hague, including some that are rarely exhibited.
They also visited the Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest collection of Van Gogh’s artworks in the world, the Stedelijk Museum and the Canal House Museum. Along with artworks by artists such as Rodin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Piet Mondrian, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Chagall, Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock, the students were thrilled that they’d arrived in time to see Banksy’s ‘Laugh now’ exhibition at the Moco Museum.
Lauren and Claudia (Year 11) said of Amsterdam, “For many of us, Amsterdam was our favourite destination. Its beautiful landscape, canals, museums, architecture and efficient way of life had a big impact on both the Design and Technology and Visual Art girls. We tried to immerse ourselves in Dutch culture as much as possible, using the trams and canals, and eating ‘stroop’ waffles. We quickly realised that we had to watch out for cyclists whenever we crossed the street.
We spent three days in this beautiful city and really tried our best to cover every aspect of the culture as possible, walking around 25,000 steps a day to achieve this. Highlights included a walking tour around the city, a canal ride and visits to many museums containing some of the most famous artworks in history. As well as admiring artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt, we were fortunate to see Banksy’s work in the Moco museum, which showed us how contemporary ideas such as politics can be expressed through art.
Whether it was embracing the artistry of The Hague or riding down the canals that run throughout the city, every experience shaped our understanding of the arts profoundly. It was a meaningful and influential part of our trip and sparked a passion in us all, which continued in Paris.”
Arriving in the City of Light, Paris, where temperatures were soaring, students took time to act as tour guides, helping the group to negotiate the Metro and find their way to the city’s iconic tourist attractions and fashion districts.
They saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, along with IM Pei’s distinctive glass pyramid. Sadly, the fire that destroyed parts of Notre Dame meant they were unable to climb its fabled towers, but they still admired its Gothic façade. They visited the Centres Georges Pompidou and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent, the Opera Garnier and the Foundation Louis Vuitton. After a visit to the Chateau of Versailles, they were thrilled to bump into Head of Drama, Ms Tiffany Crittle at Sacré Coeur. They then headed to the Eiffel Tower, before admiring the artwork at the Musée D’Orsay and taking a meandering trip down the River Seine.
A highlight was the fashion show that the students staged around the Bastille, using outfits designed by Textiles students from previous years, and with the students acting as models, stylists, photographers, hair and make-up artists and location scouts.
Ashleigh (Year 11) said, “I think all girls can say that the last two nights in Paris were our favourites. After a long day of taking in the mesmerising decor of Versailles, we got to roam the streets of Paris at Sacré Coeur, filled with markets and outdoor side street restaurants. To conclude the night, talented Emma sang with a busker with around about 100 strangers cheering her on, which distracted everyone from our throbbing feet after so much walking! Overall, Paris was full of astonishing artworks, architect designs and fashion garments that will leave an imprint in every student on this tour.”
Zoe (Year 11) said, “Paris consisted of visits to the Louvre, Georges Pompidou Centre, the YSL and Louis Vuitton Museums, and the Champs Elysée and Arc de Triomphe to name a few, where we admired the amazing architecture of the buildings and both the fashion and artworks inside them. The last day had us checking off an item from our bucket lists as we climbed the Eiffel Tower. It was worth the wait as we got to see a magnificent view of Paris. Of course, I can’t forget the fashion shoot where everyone got to reveal their photography and modelling skills.”
The students then headed to the epicentre of the arts, New York, with its dizzying array of art-world icons like the Met and the Guggenheim. They visited the Statute of Liberty, the Empire State Building and headed to Broadway to see Wicked. They also took an emotional trip to the Ground Zero Memorial, where the relics of the twin towers have been elevated into art objects, along with scorched car doors, salvaged firefighters’ uniforms and the hallowed ‘last column’ to be removed from the World Trade Center.
A particular highlight, was a walk along the High Line, which is built on a historic, elevated freight line. This public space offers stunning gardens, art, performances, delicious food and just a chance to enjoy New York from a unique perspective. The students also enjoyed visiting the Fashion District and shopping for items that you just can’t buy in Australia.
In the words of Mark Twain after sailing around the coast of the Mediterranean in 1869, travel is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Spending two and a half weeks immersed in iconic art, fashion, architecture, culture and food in three different countries revitalised our students, exposing them to new experiences and ideas, and broadening their vision and perspective. The Creative Arts Tour will hopefully stimulate their own creativity as they start the HSC syllabus and start planning their own Major Works over the coming years. But above all, travel is just good for the soul!
A huge thank you to Ms Jalili, Ms McNally, Mr Newall and Ms Carson for giving up their holidays to accompany the students and for looking after them so impeccably.