Creatively Learning Together
Creatively Learning Together
When planning to engage an Artist-In-Residence to work with our students this year, we decided to think big! Inspired by our learning with Murrundindi, the Ngurungeata of the Wurundjeri people and our work in understanding mindfulness through our Positive Education Program, we decided to explore creating an artwork that would celebrate both of these Camberwell Girls priorities. Engaging as many students, staff and where possible members of the Camberwell Girls community, the artwork needed to be quite substantial.
A number of years ago I had the privilege of attending the opening of a labyrinth at Elgee Park on the Mornington Peninsula, designed and constructed by artist Simon Normand. Simon’s career as an exhibiting artist spans 30 years and encompasses an array of creative media. His works have won many awards and received critical acclaim.
Within both urban and rural settings, his work reflects his strong environmental ethos and connection with the Australian landscape. His works have included photographs and paintings from the Roper River region, South-East Arnhem Land, also living in the area in the Ngukurr community for three years. He has held an exhibition of maps and photographs of the Mornington Peninsula depicting Boonwurrung country before colonisation.
In addition to the Elgee Park Labyrinth, Simon was the designer and creator of the Jessie Mary Vasey Labyrinth at Austin Health’s Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and has undertaken many sculpture and mosaic projects with school communities.
During 2016 Simon visited Camberwell Girls to assess possibilities for the creation of a significant art piece at the School. One of the options that he presented to us was to create a labyrinth in the amphitheatre.
The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world and designs were found on pottery, tablets and tiles that date as far back as 5000 years. Many patterns are based on spirals and circles mirrored in nature. A labyrinth is a walking meditation that has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the centre.
Unlike a maze, where you lose your way, the labyrinth is a spiritual tool that can help you find your way. In terms of understanding the meditative benefit of walking a labyrinth it is best described in contrast to a maze. You enter a maze to lose yourself, but you walk a labyrinth to find yourself.
Our Camberwell Girls labyrinth will also include mosaic features that have been created by students, staff and some members of the community. The mosaic features are predominantly native Australian animals, as portrayed in the paintings by William Barak, the great uncle of Murrundindi and former Ngurungeata of the Wurrundjeri people.
In working with Murrundindi and Aunty Joy Murphy, Simon has gained permission to use the animal designs of Bunjil the eagle, the emu, the lyrebird and the wombat. Mosaics will also form the stars in the night sky. The sketch above represents the design of the labyrinth.
Simon will be working for approximately five months at Camberwell Girls this year on this project. I hope that you will stop and view the progress as you visit the School over the next few months.
Simon has also been working with some of our Heads of Department to help us embed some of the learning in our curriculum for students.
It is wonderful to hear the delight of students and staff as they complete parts of the mosaic features. We look forward to see the development over the next few months.
With best wishes,