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Old Masters family programs

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Old Masters family programs

14 Aug 2014

Four children kneel beside a tree trunk.
Experimenting with ochre on tree forms in the Young Masters Discovery Space. Photo: Amanda Coleman.

Old Masters was an incredible exhibition that displayed some of the significant bark paintings in the National Museums vast collection. The Museum's summer Discovery Space school holiday program and Australia Day festival occurred during Old Masters, so it was only fitting that our family programs celebrated and drew inspiration from the exhibition.

The Young Masters Discovery Space school holiday program was created in consultation with the Museum's Indigenous Network (MINmin) and the Old Masters curators. Many themes came through from the exhibition – some culturally sensitive and complicated – so it was important to maintain respect for the works yet identify themes that allowed children to respond thoughtfully.

In many cases, the artworks were stories told through art for future generations to learn. In Young Masters, children were asked to symbolise their own stories into an artwork for handing down to their children and grandchildren. They made their own 'My Story' collage using a variety of old maps (provided by Geoscience Australia), bark paper, animals printed on acetate, ochre coloured crayons and inks printed using a foam linocut technique.

Collaging the maps to show their journeys or home country, animals that they connected with, and printing symbols to represent their family or individual memories, children created meaningful and beautiful artworks, effectively framed with bamboo sticks. 

A young girl displays a handmade collage.
A young master with her ‘My Story’ collage in the Discovery Space. Photo: Amanda Coleman.

Alongside this activity, children learnt about grinding ochres and had the opportunity to add their mark using real ochres to a large pair of logs made especially for the program. A small sand pit nearby tempted toddlers to tell stories by drawing in the sand.

Australia Day festival

The holiday program culminated in a festive and inclusive Australia Day where the crocodile hero image from the exhibition was a big inspiration. It was also a day of spreading positive and healthy living messages to younger generations.

We were treated to some very famous interstate guests and television personalities including Yamba the Honey Ant and Jacinta from Alice Springs, Move it Mob Style who got everybody moving, and celebrity chef Mark Olive who cooked up a bush tucker storm and helped create our healthy menu for the day.

We even had a real crocodile, thanks to Canberra Reptile Zoo, and an amazing sand sculpture came to life over the course of the day. It was a wonderful celebration of an amazing exhibition.

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