The purpose of the day was to explore and appreciate our “place” in terms of the history, culture and environmental issues associated with that place.
On Wednesday 17 February the Year 11 and 12 ATAR and General Visual Arts students and teachers were joined by AIEO Jake Louthean and Chaplain Jennifer Wingard to trek up to the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial to meet Larry Blight from Kurrah Mia. We were caught off guard by the unusually warm weather, and the journey took a little longer than expected!
When at last we reached the top, admittedly a little red-faced and out of breath, we broke into two groups with the Year 11 students finding some shady places to explore and record the natural environment with drawings and annotations whilst the Year 12s set out with Larry on the tour. The groups then swapped places with the 12s reflecting on what they had learnt with Larry and drawing while the 11s went with Larry; who gallantly did not skip a beat in repeating the same tour in the hot sun. We heard about traditional foods, Noongar names for places we are familiar with, some very cool symbiotic relationships between plants and animals, traditional sustainability practices and amazing stories about how the lands were formed.
Once we had completed our tours up on the mountain it was soon time to thank Larry for generously sharing his wealth of knowledge of local plants, animals and history, and head back down to school. The cool shade of the indoors was very much appreciated! After some quick reflection on the morning and jotting down some more notes, filling up water bottles and finally eating, students set up the art room for the afternoon session with Harley Coyne.
After Break 2 we all met up again in Ms Totten’s art room to listen to Harley Coyne speak about many things, including what life was like when he was a boy, traditions, animal totems, the significant sites around us such as the Porongurups and the current Dual Naming Project being undertaken around Albany. He was also kind enough to answer any of our questions and elaborate on things that we had heard about with Larry. Whilst Harley spoke, students worked on drawings that involved perhaps a portrait of Harley, the things that he spoke about or a more narrative expression of what they had heard over the day.
Needless to say that by the end of the school day we were all totally exhausted. It was an excellent learning opportunity for both students and staff and we all came away feeling that we had discovered much more about the place in which we live. Many thanks again to the Aboriginal Education Committee for financing this day, to Kurrah Mia for being so wonderful to work with and organise the event, to Larry and Harley for their patience and generosity in sharing, to Jake and Jennifer for coming and helping, to Mandi for helping to organise the day, Mr Marshall for lending us some cameras and to all the students who battled hot conditions, listened attentively, asked pertinent questions and developed drawings and ideas to further their course work in Visual Arts. Well done everyone, it was one of the most informative and enjoyable excursions I have ever been on.
VISUAL ARTS TEACHER