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After Nature. Introductory Workshop with Wildflower.

February 16, 2017 at 12:42 PM

This year, Year 13 Sculpture will be investigating the context ‘After Nature’ which will challenge students to think about the human influences and cultural conventions associated with flora and natural materials used in contemporary sculptural practice. The class will investigate artists such as Nils Udo, Andy Goldsworthy, Christiane Lohr and Chris Booth who all deal with notions of time, temperance, order, chaos and control using 'natural' materials to communicate these ideas.

Technology and Visual Art at Saint Kentigern College is underpinned by the aim of developing a collaborative culture that fosters visual and design literacy through creative and critical practice. Part of this means we work to develop cross-disciplinary learning experiences and actively seek experts to help develop courses and mentor students.

This is particularly important when you take on a context or subject matter that students may already have a fixed perception about, such as flora. In order to ensure a successful start to the year, and in an attempt to shift the thinking of students we invited local floral designer, Vicki Roycroft of Wildflower to introduce the context. In a four hour workshop, Vicki introduced the evolution of her own practice, discussed relevant sculptors work and practice, unpacked the use of flowers across cultures and in an art history context, and introduced the ‘tussie-mussie.’ Through an examination of the Victorian 'language of flowers' and the idea of sending a coded message to another party using specific blooms, students were then taught how to compose and arrange an 'undone' bouquet.

Another aspect of life in the Jack Paine Centre is the idea of education for everyone, that means we endeavour to extend invitations to parents, other students and staff and members of the JPC Collective when we run workshops and events. Students often benefit from having people outside their immediate sphere of influence, especially when they are practitioners who are working alongside them 'on their level'. In this instance the class was joined by Kate Pilot of Think and Shift. Think and Shift are the design team working with Product Design staff and students to design and construct a mobile resource unit that will serve as a central design hub in the space under the JPC stairwell. Kate mentioned afterwards the value of being part of the learning experience and how she has a deeper understanding of how things unfold during these kinds of practical activities.

Quite unintentionally, the workshop was run on Valentine's Day which only added cultural significance to the experience! While some students looked for blooms to symbolise humility, sanctuary and innocence others were toying with blooms that represent sorrow and vengeance. Most importantly, the students came away with a complete paradigm shift, not only about the context but also the materials they may select to use. One student was quoted in saying 'The places we could go', which is now on the whiteboard as the class mantra.

From here, Year 13 Sculpture will dive into a research project to unpack relevant artists and plan and develop a large scale installation in a specific space. Vicki will hopefully return for a two day practical session to ensure students have all the relevant engineering problems solved before the works go in space and to provide more specialist skills. These works should be in place near the start of Term 2 and will serve to inspire the development of their external portfolios.

A link to Vicki’s website is below, I suggest looking at the ‘workroom’ page:

http://www.wildflowerwaiheke.com/

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