Artists in Community International also work in schools. We work with students as well as run professional development for teachers showing a range of creative ways to engage and stimulate learning.
Many schools in India and Nepal have few resources. Their students and teachers are less exposed to contemporary approaches to learning/teaching, culture and ideas from within their own country and beyond. Teaching styles often rely on rote learning and stylised forms of drawing. These do not easily give way to creative thinking or practice.
A creative process is to think differently – outside the square, it is about learning new skills, new ways of doing things, or putting things together to create something entirely new and unique.
Creative thinking is especially necessary in developing countries as it is one of the constituents of change.
We love showing students the x-ray bark paintings from the Australian Aboriginal people. These paintings show both the inside and the outside; you see the spine, bones and internal organs as well as the outside form. These artworks are usually highly patterned – often in fine lines – and painted with a limited palette of earth colours. They are very often carefully composed – so that each side of the bark is touched by the animal; this is particularly so in the paintings of the Rainbow Serpent.
We show these paintings in schools to open eyes to a culture and people they have never known before. For tribal communities this can be especially rich as it creates a link with them and other similar people. The x-ray drawings are a great example to illustrate different ways of seeing and expressing.
We showed these art works to students and teachers in a rural school near the brick kilns and invited the students to use them as an inspiration for creating large works of an animal or bird they know, using familiar patterns. One group chose the rabbit, another a peacock and there was also a dog and a bird. It was very challenging exercise to conceptualise both the inside and outside at the same time, and fill in the design with pattern rather than whatever it might take to make their drawing ‘realistic’.
The students were delighted and surprised by the end results – and were rightly proud of themselves.
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look for the little baby inside
This project was ran in partnership with Urban Environment Management Project, Nepal (UEMS)