The Artist-in-Residence programme brings a different dimension to Visual Arts classes at Melbourne Grammar School. While all Visual Arts teachers are also practicing artists in their own right, the injection of new ideas increases the likelihood that students will discover a visual language that particularly resonates with them.
Each campus invites artists to work with their students each year and pass on their expertise and wisdom, as well as provide a first-hand demonstration of artistic professional practice. Visits normally include the production of a major art installation or exhibition.
In addition to students benefitting by directly engaging with an artist ‘at work’, the artists have the opportunity to learn themselves, through the energy, bounce and questions of the students. It is a very powerful learning model.
This year, the Artist-in-Residence projects have produced three outstanding artworks.
An apparently unprepossessing external wall at Grimwade House has been transformed into an inspirational landmark through a collaboration between community artist, Brett Ashby, and Year 6 students.
Facing the Year 5 and 6 classroom area, the artwork was designed by Brett based on the colours, shape, font and words nominated by students during a structured workshop, then painted by Brett and the students.
“I was interested in hearing the voice of students and gaining local ownership of the artwork,” explains Brett. “It was important students were able to link the creative solution to the space and place, and that it had relevance for them.”
“When students walk past the words, hopefully they will mean something to students in the further and it will cause them to reflect what the words mean to them,” says Year 6 student, Ned.
“I am so impressed with the final artwork,” says Ms Lee-Anne D’Paul, Head of Visual Art at Grimwade House. “The boldness of the piece is eye catching and the words are very current from an educational standpoint. The combination of visual and written languages reminds students that both are valid ways to express ideas, and both have merit.”
For many students, it is the longevity of the installation that is important to them. “I really enjoyed being able to paint the mural and to know that when I come back to Grimwade House one day that I helped create this lovely piece of artwork,” says Year 6 student, Sia.