Doncaster Reserve Community Project

Term: 2 Year: 2017

It is only on rare occasions that student artwork is on permanent exhibition beyond the school grounds. So when the opportunity arose for Doncaster Secondary College (DSC) students to respond to a real life design brief within their local community, our participation was never in doubt.

Manningham City Council had designated a location in Doncaster Reserve, Doncaster Road, adjacent to Jackson Court traders, for a community sculpture. The council is working to develop the site as an urban plaza by creating a vibrant community facility that will also address the ongoing graffiti and dumping of unwanted goods. DSC students were invited to respond to the ‘wall art project’ aspect of the brief. Final designs would be laser cut from steel panels and attached to the perimeter wall. 

This opportunity required students to step out of their school community and connect with their local target audience. Over a six week period, DSC Year 10 Visual Communication Design class conducted themselves as a design team with head designer, local artist Kathy Heyward, providing direction. It was clear after a site visit that a common description of the space included words such as ‘neglected’, ‘dirty’ and ‘dark’. From here students leapt into responding to what they saw, through quick thumbnail sketches and visualisation drawing. Back at school, Kathy guided the students through a number of drawing tasks which became three possible solutions to the design brief. 

The final of the three drawing submissions included the investigation of line, texture and pattern. Graphic designer, Andreas Preis, provided much inspiration here; students created line drawings of native animals that illustrated a detailed understanding of mark making techniques. At this point the reality of these designs fitting the brief started to become pivotal to class discussion. The team commented: “There is nothing like this in Doncaster”, “Everyone I know would identify with these animal designs”, “This is the best design response by far”, “People of all ages would enjoy looking at these designs”. Much to the students delight Manningham City Council decided to proceed with the native animal drawing submission of a Tawny Frogmouth and a Ringtail Possum. 

Over the following months Doncaster Reserve Project started to take shape. Landscaping was a large part of the project, as well as a fresh coat of paint, planting of trees, modern seating, and of course the amazing laser cut panels. Each panel is 1.2 x 2.4m and cast beautiful a shadow on the wall behind, during the day. LED strips light up the work at night. 

It was an invaluable experience for Year 10 students to connect with their local community, apply their design thinking techniques to a real design brief, and work within a design team that is reflective of industry practice. 

Georgie Doherty
Arts/Technology Leader
Year 10 Visual Communication Design
Doncaster Secondary College