Call for Papers

National Visual Art Education Conference 2014

Connecting Classrooms, Curriculum & Collections


21 - 23 January 2014


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Ramingining Artists The Aboriginal Memorial 1987-88, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia purchased with the assistance of funds from the National Gallery admission charges and commissioned in 1987 More detail

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Paper presenters

John Bennett, eLearning Strategic Consultant of the Northern Territory Department of Education

John Bennett started his career in Victoria as an exhibiting artist. On moving to the Northern Territory John focused his energy on the integration of ICT within the classroom.  Over the past decade John has been employed as an Assistant Principal, Director of 'Teaching and Learning with ICT', and Senior Program Manager of multiple systems level, cross jurisdictional and in-school projects. John is currently the eLearning Strategic Consultant of the Northern Territory Department of Education. His studio arts background influences his administration processes.

Digital literacy and participatory multimodal media

Schools are the engine house of the future however there is disconnect between workplace expectations, and students' in-school and out-of-school learning experiences. This discussion is about 'cultures of learning' and engaging 21st century students through innovative programs.

Our schools are the institutions that step Australia into the future. Curriculum expectations, national assessment and professional standards have changed. Society has moved from enterprise networks of PCs to a mobile world connected through social and personal cloud services. There is a convergence of entertainment, media, knowledge and information. New workforce skills are becoming essential. Today's and tomorrow's students are entering a life of work that demands significantly more technical skills than previously required. The steps forward are through creativity and innovation. Teachers, school and department leaders need to commit to innovative learning programs that employ 21st century technologies and are connected with contemporary society.

Students' in-school and out-of-school ICT experiences are polarising and innovative learning programs can face multiple obstacles and gatekeepers. A learner-centred approach is required. An innovative and creative 'culture of learning' needs to be the driver and definer of classroom activity. This presentation discusses digital literacy proficiency, 21st century skills, and the value of ingenuity, innovation and creativity expressed through multimodal technologies.

Sasha Grbich - Adelaide Central School of Art

Sasha Grbich is and artist, writer and lecturer working predominantly in the fields of sculpture, installation and video art. An avid collector of strange 'things', found footage, sounds and stories; she is fascinated by the ways art interacts with everyday life. Sasha creates art experiences that explore how art performs with audience and in local environments. She lectures at the Adelaide Central School of Art in Foundation Studies and Contemporary Studio Practice, and is currently undertaking postgraduate research at University of South Australia. To see her projects or for further information, visit her online at

Teaching unpredictable things

This explores the implications and challenges of working with 'performative' artworks in a tertiary visual arts framework. An artwork is an unstable event in which actions in motion operate in a continuous state of 'becoming' and from where they might be continually and differently constituted, described or categorised. At a time when many artworks are driven by notions of experience, encounter and participation, the 'performative' suggests a shift away from (or an expansion of) representational ways of knowing. A performative framework provides ways of addressing the unpredictable experience of artworks and the uncontrollable life of 'things'. Teaching unpredictable things explores the implications and challenges of working with and from 'performative' artworks in a tertiary visual arts framework. Considering: what are the implications for measuring and assessing the success or failure of artworks that deal in audience experience, social engagement, participation or co-authorship? How can we facilitate process and experimentation where artworks are utilise time and space? And where an event is key, what role does documentation play in making meanings? Starting from the assertion that artworks are shifting qualities, made with the variable agencies of audience, material and context and re-made differently in memory and documentation, this paper aims to provide an introduction to the implications of teaching with and from performative, unpredictable things.

Kathryn Hendy-Ekers - Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority

Kathryn Hendy-Ekers is the Curriculum Manager, Visual Arts at the Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority. She has 25 years teaching experience in Visual Arts and Design in various states and internationally where she has worked in a number of school systems in curriculum development. Kathryn currently lectures sessionally in Visual Arts Education at the Australian Catholic University in the Faculty of Education.  She has a Master of Education (Visual Arts) in Museum Education from New South Wales University, College of Fine Arts, and is currently undertaking a PhD in this area with Charles Sturt University, Faculty of Education; School of Teacher Education. Kathryn is the author of several textbooks for Secondary education.

Curriculum Renewal and the implementation of the Australian Curriculum; Quality in Arts education practice

This paper presents recent research into excellence in arts education through the implementation of the Australian curriculum in Victoria based on the framework of the The Qualities of Quality; Understanding Excellence in Arts Education (Sidel et al., 2009). The research has examined the implementation of arts programs and how to identify elements of quality in current school Arts programs, including aspects of alignment between beliefs, policy and practice. The presentation will focus on a series of models and communities of practice that demonstrate best teaching practice in Arts Education in the delivery of the AusVELS curriculum as well as its relationship to the Australian Curriculum: The Arts. The General Capabilities and Cross Curricula Priorities of the Australian Curriculum will also be discussed and how these concepts are included in curriculum development in The Arts in Victoria. The quality of the programs and student learning experiences are discussed through the 'Four Lenses of Quality in Arts Education Experiences' (Siedel et al., 2009) and outline the multiple outcomes of arts education in schools in Victoria.

Linking the curriculum with museum experiences: 'Creating learning communities' forming partnerships between art gallery education programs and the Australian Curriculum

In the current educational climate, art galleries and museums are constantly researching ways in which they can connect with a wide range of learning communities to develop partnerships and communities of practice. They seek to develop programs that align with the outcomes of contemporary curriculum. However, the motivations of teachers to take their students to an art gallery are driven by providing students with an informal learning experience. How do art galleries, particularly those in regional and local communities seek to make connections with teachers whilst addressing the requirement of the curriculum and provide valuable learning experiences that differ from those structured in the classroom?

This paper will discuss how curriculum outcomes can be identified in gallery education programs and how galleries become innovative learning environments. A range of case studies will be outlined as models for teaching and learning using the Australian Curriculum; The Arts, primarily with a focus of the delivery of the curriculum through AusVELS in Victoria. Both onsite and online programs will be outlined as the catalyst for curriculum development.

Arts learning through gallery education programs can be linked to cross curricular teaching and learning in schools. Various models and communities of practice between schools and galleries will also be a feature of the presentation. The work of experienced, graduate, pre-service teachers and gallery education officers will be exemplified surrounding why teachers take students to art galleries and how their learning experiences go beyond engagement to deep and diversified learning. The value of education programs in galleries from the perspective of a curriculum writer will be presented. The values will be defined with direct links to the General Capabilities and Cross Curricular priorities of the Australian Curriculum.

Dr Donna Mathewson Mitchell - Charles Sturt University, School of Teacher Education

Donna Mathewson Mitchell is a Senior Lecturer in Education at Charles Sturt University. She is an experienced art educator and currently lectures in visual arts curriculum and teaching pedagogy. Her research is focused on teaching practice, art education and teaching and learning in public spaces. 

Distant Connections: Connecting pre-service teachers to museums in a distance education environment 

In this presentation Donna will explore the challenges of preparing secondary visual arts teachers in a distance education environment and provide an example of one innovative approach. This approach developed in an emergent way from involvement in a cross-institutional project and collaboration with Bathurst Regional Council. Curriculum in two visual arts curriculum method subjects was revised to incorporate the study of sites of learning beyond the classroom context. This led to the development of a range of multi- modal teaching resources that enabled engagement with one particular historical site, the Chifley Home and Education Centre, as a case study. A project based approach that utilised a virtual classroom space was then used to develop a collaborative exhibition in the museum space that enabled students to respond to the site using digital filmmaking, art-making and text. This presentation will outline the project and explore its use of a range of online technologies to connect students to each other, to the field of art education, to cross curriculum perspectives, to the site, to their local communities and to their own personal and professional identities. The presentation will include an overview of the final exhibition and examples of online student work.

Louisa Penfold, Stephanie Ferguson, Barbara Piscitelli - Ipswich Art Gallery

Louisa Penfold (BA, MMusSt) is the Children's Program Officer at the Ipswich Art Gallery. Within the role she is responsible for the development and delivery of children's exhibitions and programs at the Gallery. Louisa's research interest focuses on children's and family learning in art museums, her Master's thesis documented different approaches to family learning programs in American art museums which comprised of research placements in the family and education programs at Dallas Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.

Stefanie Ferguson (BA) is Children's Program Officer at the Ipswich Art Gallery. Stefanie studied a BA in Sculpture at Edinburgh University in which she attained first class honours for her practice in sustainable arts. Her practice and interest in sustainable arts led to her appointment of Director and Arts Coordinator for an environmental reuse centre in Brisbane. During this role Stefanie developed and delivered art programs and activities for various community organisations in Queensland. Stefanie's involvement in community engagement with young people led her to take on her current role at the Gallery. Her interest focuses on program development for young people.

Barbara Piscitelli has an academic background in early childhood education and creative arts. She specialises in audience research and program development for museums, libraries, hospitals, galleries and communities. Barbara serves on the Board of Directors of major Australian museums, advises widely in the arts and cultural sector, works directly with children and communities, and collects and curates children's art. Barbara was the consulting research advisor for the Light Play project.

Child – centered practice in the Early Years: Experiential Learning through play at the Ipswich Art Gallery

In 2013, the Gallery developed and presented Light Play (15 July – 25 August 2013), an interactive exhibition designed especially for children under the age of eight that promoted the use of light as a creative material for making ephemeral art through collaborative play, experimentation and discovery-based learning. The exhibition was attended by more than 7000 visitors over its 6 week exhibition period. As part of the exhibition, a formal research project was run as an integral part of Light Play sessions. This research documented the qualities that lead to successful creative play experiences for young children in art museums by examining three key aspects of the exhibition: the environment, program and participants.

In this presentation, the findings of the research project will be presented, many of which indicate a need for creative experiences in art museums to move towards an approach which embodies Universal Design practice and experiential learning through phenomenal based creative play.

This presentation focuses on the art gallery as the context of a public space to spark learning for children, parents and teachers. We will provide an informative analysis of the Light Play exhibition in regards to the environment, program structure and children's creative experience in the space. The presentation will focus on: exhibition rationale and research background, findings and future recommendations.

Mary Preece - Bundanon Trust

Mary Preece is Education Manager at Bundanon Trust. With over 30 years' experience as a secondary art and design teacher, Mary is passionate about linking the environment and the arts. Mary piloted the Touched by the Earth program at Bundanon Trust in 2010, and the program has since extended to four Shoalhaven Schools. With an interested in site-based learning ecologies, Mary has developed a research partnership with the University of Western Sydney. At Bundanon, Mary develops unique education programs based around artists and scientists in residence and runs an extensive day and residential art education program.

Touched by the Earth

This is an immersive enrichment program at Bundanon Trust, engages students in nature and the environment. The year-long program, involves cross-curriculum research and studies, enabled through the arts. The students engage in the rich context of the properties, the Collection and the landscape of Bundanon Trust over several visits, during different seasons of the year. The journey includes learning about bio-diverse ecosystems through visiting and documenting different vegetation communities. Using place-based methodologies, students study flora and fauna during the day and night. They engage with the Shoalhaven River, through a kayak journey and overnight camp at Bundanon with poetry and drawing activities culminating in the production of an artist's book.

These unique experiences, allow students to reflect on their connection to place, expressed through artworks. Touched by the Earth provides the context for students to develop knowledge and skills to cope with and act on the changing world around them. A longitudinal research study by University of Western Sydney, commenced in 2012, is monitoring how these unique experiences of place and context impact student learning. There are implications for the students' understanding of sustainability and global environmental issues developed through art practice.

Wendy Ramsay - University of Technology, Sydney

Wendy Ramsay has extensive experience in visual arts education, as a visual arts teacher, head teacher, Deputy Principal, state visual arts advisor for the NSW Department of Education and Training and as a Visual Arts lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney and ARTEXPRESS Visual Arts Curriculum Advisor and presenter for teachers, pre-service teachers and students.

Wendy's research focuses on implementing contemporary practice in visual arts curriculum, the active construction of knowledge, student art writing, collaborative learning and innovative pedagogies.

Connectivity and Currents in Contemporary Practice

In this paper, the contemporary art theories of art historian, critic, curator and artist Terry Smith and current issues in the art world are investigated as a platform for a continuing discourse to facilitate independent student research.

Terry Smith refers to contemporary art as a multiple, internally differentiating, category-shifting, shape changing and unpredictable (diverse) entity-like contemporaneity itself. 

Terry Smith is an innovative thinker, a leading exponent and defining force in establishing new terminology in the theory of contemporary art. He interrogates the contemporary in a wide range of contexts and proposes key questions about what constitutes contemporary art. His propositions about evolving currents in contemporary practice provide a platform of enquiry for student research in developing their own premise and construction of knowledge. The currents are closely related yet distinct in their parameters and encompass the role of the curator in an expanded field incorporating global, social, political and cultural frameworks and their relationship to the agencies of the art world.

Donald Richardson - Independent Presenter

Donald Richardson is a retired art educator who continues to work in the history and theory of the field. He was Inspector of Art in the Education Department of South Australia for twenty years; retiring in 1987 following which he lectured at the University of South Australia for several years. He has published six books on this topic; the last of which is entitled What Art is – and Isn't. An Aesthetic Tract (Strategic Books, 2010). Currently in press is Creating Remembrance. The Art and Design of Australian War Memorials (to be released in 2014).

That Art is not Design

The problem is often characterised as one of nomenclature, and the inconsistent use of words by the field is certainly part of it. Historic works, like Duchamp's Fountain, Serra's Tilted Arc and Newson's Lockheed Lounge are discussed in terms of two other concepts: the aesthetic and the functional. Functionality distinguishes design from art, and the aesthetic unites the two. The universality and pre-eminence of aesthetic in daily existence can justifiably be considered a basic sense of all creatures. Together with the ethical, it is always a part of human life but – whereas we acquire an ethical sense from living life – we are innately aesthetic beings. This is a major justification for art education. But, the absolute imperative of the functional in design marks it off decidedly from art.

Dr Kim Snepvangers and Robyn Bannon - School of Art History & Art Education, College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales

Dr. Kim Snepvangers is Head, School of Art History & Art Education, College of Fine Arts, UNSW. Her research focuses on ecologies of practice in social/educational networks. Kim investigates ways to connect audiences and artworks within the sphere of the art museum and professional practice.

Robyn Bannon is a lecturer in the School of Art History & Art Education, COFA, UNSW. For the last five years Robyn has coordinated the professional experience internship program in visual arts education at COFA. Her research is informed by practices of teaching art historical studies in the visual arts classroom.

Fluid Ecologies: Creative artefacts in a standardised world

Whilst retaining a level of hope, Connell (2013) provides a succinct discussion of an increasingly homogenised market agenda in education. Anticipating a need for reinvention, Connell suggests coalitions of social groups and the creation of spaces for educational invention. Experimental forms of inquiry have potentiality within both formal and informal sites of art education.

The premise of fluidity anticipated in the title is engaged with the key purpose of opening spaces of education, to counter restrictions such as Federal and State Government teaching standards. This paper showcases 'practice architectures' devised to engage with learning beyond that which standards set out to show or teach. The principle of ecology used in this framework forms a network of interconnected processes and recognises the complex nature of learning within visual arts. This research examines experimental approaches in the digital capture of 'curated artefacts' in a final year professional industry experience at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW. The concept of curation is vital within conceptions of digital curation and twenty-first century learning.

Rather than having a fixed benchmark for best practice, the eclectic nature of the numerous agents to which art educators respond requires fluidity in approach and practice.

Julie Wren, School of Education at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia

Julie Wren currently lectures for the School of Education at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and is a member of the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research. Her experiences range from being an early childhood and primary classroom teacher to a school visual arts specialist. In addition she has worked as a Deputy Principal and School Development Consultant for the WA Department of Education. Her research interests are about how young children create and express meaning when they view and respond to artworks. She is working towards her PhD at the University of Melbourne. It's more than nice: authentic purposes for visual art in the primary classroom that connect classrooms, curriculum and collections

Artworks in Residence: How young children respond to adult created artworks

When young children look at artworks, what is it that they do to explore, construct and communicate meaning? In this research project a class of kindergarteners were given opportunities to respond to a range of 2D, 3D and 4D artworks sourced from artists in Western Australia. The artworks were displayed in their classroom for a week at a time and the children's responses were observed and video recorded. Findings indicate that children's responses to the artworks were embodied; they relied on use of signs and symbols in social contexts; and they created meaning by transmediating from one modality (such as talking or drawing) to other modalities (such as dancing, dramatic play, scientific inquiry or music).

This study is significant because it potentially provides new evidence for the value of first-hand experiences in learning; the processes by which young children learn about and from art and it may provide educators with insights on how to support and shapehape learning in visual arts; re-emphasising the importance of learning through play, and challenging pedagogical approaches which may be overly formal and restricted.'