Australian History

Term: 4 Year: 2008
Australian History 5
Australian History 4
Australian History 3
Australian History 2
Australian History 1
Australian History 6

This Visual Art unit was created to support the level 4 classroom Inquiry unit of Australian History at Aspendale Gardens
Primary School.

Students worked in groups of 4/5 to research, plan, and design and recreate a piece of artwork from any period of our
history.  The aim was for students to gain a greater understanding of aspects of Australia’s history through
a study of artworks created and the artists who created them at various times during our history.  The unit involved


Part 1 of the task was for students to work in groups of 3 or 4 to choose, then recreate in threads and textiles, a
collage of their chosen artwork on a canvas 1.2 x 1m. Part 2 of the task was for students to research the life of their
chosen artist, to find out as much as possible about them, their art and events that influenced and affected them.

Part 2 of the task was worked on during art workshops and during Level 4 Elective times (2 sessions- I hour each week.)  
Part 2 involved each group presenting their research in the form of a freeze-frame/mini performance ‘bringing to
life’ the aspect of Australian history portrayed in their chosen artwork/a snapshot of the artist life that influenced
the subject /theme of the painting. Students were responsible for creating their ‘freeze’ and creating /collecting
any props and costumes they would need to give their performance  realism.

The timeline was discussed and clearly set out in the students’ planner to assist groups to manage their time
effectively as we would be presenting our reproductions and at an “Exhibition Evening” in the last week of
term. Students had access to a range of resource materials such as books and posters and computer access to research the
Internet re possible artwork they might like to reproduce for this unit.

WEEKS 3 – 4

In their groups, students had to

Have 2 large printed copies of the artwork they were recreating to refer to 1.  as work progressed and 2. 
to use to transfer plans for their design  to the canvas

Complete their planner clearly designating roles for each member so everyone had a task each week. This was reassessed
as the piece ‘grew’ and the task progressed. Students found tasks they had thought would be quite time consuming
were completed quickly so they either found a new tasks needing  to be done or worked to assist a team member with

We discussed the requirements of the task- the entire piece must be created using collage- a huge selection of fabrics,
threads- wool,  threads, braids, cord, raffia, string, jute and other bits and pieces collected from home.  Students
were encouraged to think creatively about fabrics etc they chose….to really explore colour and textures. It wasn’t
always going to be easy matching colours, shades to the original artworks.  Skills we would focus on- joining- threading,
weaving, tying, gluing-PVA, Supertac, hot glue guns. We also discussed using wadding or other methods students could come
up with to make their artwork more 2D i.e.  using wadding, tying /weaving sections using threads, strips of fabric,
etc, wiring sections/areas.

Groups found the task of deciding where to begin overwhelming at first. We discussed deciding on an appropriate fabric
for the background. We looked at Colour, texture, line.  We explored various textures of fabrics and looked changing
fabrics, adding texture by threading, weaving, layering one or more fabrics over one another.

The task of measuring and transferring their much smaller copy of their design onto a canvas so much larger in size
was also a scary concept.  This led to lots of discussion and a variety of methods. Some groups opted for measuring,
others broke areas into sections, and others worked with a mosaic of fabrics in similar shades.  Fabrics were stretched
and students shown how to use the wall stapler to stretch fabrics to the back of the canvas and fold and staple ends neatly
and carefully.

Designs of creatures/shapes for the foreground were created on paper patterns which then needed to be laid on the background
to ensure size/ proportion. When students were happy with this, designs were cut from fabrics and joining methods decided
on.  At each stage I was able to revisit various joining methods. There were many opportunities to stop and go for
a walk…discovering what other groups were doing—learning from each other, opportunities for individuals/groups
to celebrate their successes/ share ideas/ask questions of each other.

WEEKS 4 – 11

It was wonderful to watch students’ interaction with each other…To stand by or at times intervene and share
how problems were worked through, solutions found through discussion with others and  experimentation..the expression
on their faces as their artwork ‘grew’ and  progressed  and the final amazement when we stood back
and  wondered at the beauty of  finished pieces.

Assessment of this task was based on Design, Inventiveness and Creativity, Use of materials, Joining techniques and
skills and Students’ skills to work co-operatively and use time effectively.

EXHIBITION EVENING – A culmination of a huge terms work..

The ‘Exhibition Evening’ involved presentations of ‘freeze frames’ by each group in front of
their artwork spotlit for effect in our hall. These performances were accompanied by various music chosen by students.
After the performances, groups carried their reproductions to set them in tour library where   guests (parents
and family) were invited to view the artworks up close the artworks and meet and chat with the artists.

Parents and their families were staggered by the effort and attention to detail in the students’ recreations.
Students were so proud of their work and eager to share how they had created them, their artist lives and works. An amazing

Julie Lach
Art Co-ordinator 
Aspendale Gardens Primary School