Fiona Foley Activity

Suitable for: Years 7-8 Visual Arts or Visual Design.

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In this activity, students will respond to the works ‘Dingo Skull Horizion 1’ (1997) and ‘Dingo Skull B’ (1994) by First Nations artist Fiona Foley. They will construct a faceless self-portrait through the painting of a minimalist landscape scene of an area significant to them, overlayed with a relief print of a personal, symbolic or meaningful object.




ACAVAM11 – Students respond to the subject matter and style of Fiona Foley through the development of their own self portrait.
ACAVAM121 – Students build a collection of photographs, mind maps, designs, and experimentation with materials within their Visual Art diaries.
ACAVAR123 – Students reflect on symbolism within the works of Fiona Foley, Daniel Boyd and Danie Mellor as well as articulating their personal choices of imagery.



Notes about the Artist/Artworks

Throughout Foley’s practice, the artist connects the landscape to her identity. In her series of pastels, Foley has produced empty landscapes, vivid but with single or few colours, symbolic to her of European settlement and the absence of First Nations people. In each of these works, Foley inserts a line drawing made of predominately white, negative space. These objects depicted have been found in her homeland and include dingo skulls and tools. To Foley these items that are associated with her culture and family, symbolise that the presence of her ancestors still exist in Country.



Suggested Chronology of Activities

Step 1: Students are introduced to the practice of Fiona Foley and variations in self-portraiture.

Step 2: Students brainstorm sites and objects that are important to them before designing a minimal composition in their diaries that consider a site, colours, and photographs of an object that is relevant to them.

Step 3: Students create a still life drawing of the object which is then photocopied to size and transferred onto a Soft Cut Block. After carving their design, students print onto white paper with black (suggested) ink. This is carefully cut out after drying.

Step 4: Teachers should demonstrate an activity for how to paint a minimal or deconstructed landscape. Students create their landscape interpretation on A3 paper with acrylic paint, inserting a bold horizon line with paint, ink or pastel. The print is glued into the composition with an optional shadow painted into the work.



Why are these works by Fiona Foley considered self portraits if the artist is absent?

What symbols have been used in Foley’s work? How does knowing their personal importance to her make you feel?

Fiona Foley, Daniel Boyd and Danie Mellor create ‘monochromatic’ artworks. Choose two works by these artists and describe how colour, tone and light has been used.

Create a statement about the object and landscape you chose to depict. Why are they a part of your identity? Why are the colours, site and item important to you?



Materials & Equipment

  • RL020 Bamboo Baren
  • AE074 Acetate Sheets A4 10pk
  • IN125-BK Speedball Water-based Black Ink 150ml
  • LT040 Velvet Print Lino 15 x 15cm
  • LT131 Soft Cut Carving Blocks
  • PA655-MM Mixed Media Paper A3 25pk
  • PA805-GR Graphite Transfer Paper A4 20pk
  • PN172 Triangular Coloured Pencils 24pk
  • PT202-BK Chromacryl 2lt – Black
  • RL040 Easy Clean Rubber Roller



Share Your Outcomes!

How did you go!? We’d love you to share your artwork with us on Facebook or Instagram!


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