Murdoch and Melville Primary School bring songlines to life

July 28, 2011

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Murdoch University students and pupils from Melville Primary School are creating a series of artworks to reflect the past, present and future of the old Melville Primary School site as part of the government’s Artist in Residence (AIR) Grants Program.

Textile artist Louise Snook is working with the students on the project, Songlines of the Old School. The project is a celebration of the land, which was initially intended for residential housing when the old school was demolished. The community fought to retain the land as public open space, recently renamed as Kadidjiny Park, ensuring the land was accessible for all to use.

Ms Snook said the project not only celebrated the school but also empowered the children.

“This project really empowers students that are creatively orientated and stimulates an appreciation of the arts that will grow into adulthood,” she said.

The children will also develop their sense of school that is theirs, reflects them and their interests, and is a part of their own community.”

The school students have been assigned a songline or story which represents the school in its three phases – past, current and future. The students will use a range of textile techniques including felt-making, costume, natural dyeing, weaving and screen-printing to develop art works that represent their chosen story. Students will also explore each story through music.

Murdoch University Faculty of Arts, Education and Creative Media, Professor Andrew Taggart said the project reflects an understanding of the key value of the arts in everyday life.

“How the students come to know themselves and the world they live in and the importance of living an ‘expressive life’ is too often forgotten in schools and homes. AIR supports the fundamental role that the arts should play in our homes, schools and communities,” he said.

He said the project allows young people to access their own cultural heritage but also contribute to it.

“The outcomes of the project will add to the richness of life at Melville Primary and complement our teacher education program in the School of Education at Murdoch so that students continue to see arts as natural, normal and necessary to being fully functioning individuals and citizens in our increasingly globalised world.”

The AIR project will culminate in a Spring Community Arts Festival in the amphitheatre at the old school site on September 2, 2011. This Festival will act as an umbrella to encompass not only the activities produced through the AIR project, but also the Arts Context of Music that is being integrated.

The AIR Grants Program is in the second year of a four-year pilot and is a joint arts in education initiative between the Western Australian Department of Culture and Arts and Department of Education, and the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts.

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