Sep 18, 2012

Aboriginal Inspired Fibre Sculptures


As indigenous art is a significant and important part of the study of Australian art, I inevitably teach several lessons a year centred around Aboriginal art. I wanted to make sure this year that students are exposed to something other than the Western Desert art movement of 'dot painting' and that they are made aware of more contemporary aboriginal practises and artists.
Therefore, these grade 4 sculptures were inspired by woven sculptures by Tjanpi Central Desert Weavers. 

'These are made from desert grass (tjanpi), wool, raffia and found objects. The artists collect the materials and make the work in their traditional homelands. Tjanpi (grass) began as a series of basket-weaving workshops held in 1995. Today women across 18 central desert communities make a spectacular array of quirky and animated sculptural forms as well as magnificent baskets from locally collected grasses. Working with fibre in this way is a fundamental and vital part of contemporary desert culture'. 
This information and the accompanying images are from Nomad Art and Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Check out these great websites for more information.

My students were asked to choose any Australian animal for their sculpture. We then built the body, head and limbs from balls of scrunched up newspaper, taped in place with masking tape. I guess you could also paper mache or aluminium foil for the armature. Some used wooden skewers or pipe cleaners for longer thinner body parts.

Once the armature was complete, students tied on a piece of brown string or jute twine and began wrapping their sculpture. More string was tied on and wrapped as needed. This process was then repeated using coloured wool or yarn. Once complete, we glued on beads for eyes and noses.

I will be sad to see these sculptures go home with the kids next week. I think the kids did an amazing job and I've become quite attached to their animals!


  
Kangaroo

 
Black Swan

 
Kookaburra

Long-Necked Turtle

Great White Shark

Emu

Platypus

Rainbow Lorikeet

Emu
Wallaby

 
Coiled Snake

Kingfisher

Redback Spider (ick..)


Kookaburra (?)

 
Wombat


Budgie

Baby Koala

Snake

Koala

 
Coiled Snake

 Numbat

 
 Kookaburra

26 comments:

  1. Your guys have done amazing work - they obviously have a fantastic teacher!! Thank you for sharing this great lesson :)

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  2. Wow what amazing, beautiful work! Well done Anne and kids!

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  3. These are Fantastic! I can't decide which one is my favorite. I love that they're all so different. What an original sculpture project!

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  4. These are beyond unbelievable!! Love the sculpture and fiber art mixture. Excellent lesson!!

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  5. LOVE these! You are always inspiring me with new ways to teach sculpture with my students! This year I finally have the space to do it again (on a small scale) but no kiln anymore, so we are experimenting with lots of processes like this! (Honestly, I was never that crazy about clay and 30 students per class in a 900+ kid school anyway, haha!) Thanks for the great ideas :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Katie. I always love your ideas too. Yes, the kids always love to do clay but it can be such a hassle for us art teachers :) You can always do air drying clay I guess.

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  6. Replies
    1. Anonymous - I am an Australian and we spell it COLOURED!

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  7. I love these sculptures. Are they mounted on wood or is that a folded paper stand? Also, how long did they take? I definitely want to try this with some of my students!

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    1. Sorry, I have only just seen this comment! Thank you! The stands are just cardboard boxes painted black which is what I use if I can't get wooden blocks. They took a fair while. I'd allow about 8 one hour lessons at least.

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  8. Love this idea. Can you tell me how the students manage to tie loose ends off and begin a new strand to continue wrapping? Thanks

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    1. Thanks Miranda - most of the students were ok with just tying on a new piece as they ran out, which also allows them to change colours. If not I helped them to tie on new pieces. Anything that looked ratty at the end we either trimmed off or glued down.

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  9. Anne-
    Whenever I am researching great projects, I always stop by your page! It's a gem mine for art teachers; your projects are so creative and do a wonderful job of encouraging imagination and play. I can't wait to see what my students create from this project for our "sculpture" theme in July!

    I work for Arts For Life, a North Carolina-based arts education non-profit. Our teachers work with kids and families in the hospital who are facing serious illnesses, including cancer and blood disorders. We have some truly talented young artists with very unique viewpoints. You can check out some of their work at our website: aflnc.org

    Thanks again for your generous and creative contributions to the arts education community, and for the inspiration you are spreading to these very special young folks!

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    1. Hi Betsey,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. I have just been looking at the absolutely wonderful and inspiring children's art work on your website. I wish I were able to work with you in person to help enrich these children's lives, but if you are able to get something from this blog that is almost as good. If you do complete any of my projects I'd love to see some photos!

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  10. Thanks for promoting Tjanpi Desert Weavers...

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    1. you can find further information on www.tjanpi.com.au

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    2. Thank YOU ladies. Will include this website in the post ;)

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  11. Hi,
    I am just finishing this . one up with a group of about 200 kids from k- year 4 on a Navajo Rez. I used food foil with the kinder class and a couple of lower grade classes. The little kids made all the same kind of animal. The older groups had more choices and made more difficult animals. There were a lot of turtles in some groups! Some animals were small and others where quite large!!! Some students had great difficulty manipulating the newspaper and tape into a suitable form whereas other students took to it readily and were more comfortable being independent problem solvers. I used balsa wood to mount a few of the animals that needed a stand to stick the legs into. However, I ran out of these bits...I may try poking holes in tuna fish cans next. You could also use large bits of stiff styrofoam to stick the legs into. Do not paint it with spray paint, however, as this releases harmful fumes. We used hot glue to stick some of the legs and body parts together. Students had a hard time managing their tape use!! You may like to see some examples at www dot artteacherwithheart dot com

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    1. Glad it went well - sounds like you had fun. I can't see the pictures on your blog though? What is wrong with me?

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  12. Your blog is really very interesting dear. I am interested in Aboriginal Art. Please share something about it.

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  13. AMAZING. I will be doing this soon with excited kids soon. thanks for sharing.

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  14. Very cute. I've done these before using grasses and twigs but I like the newspaper armature idea too, a bit easier to do with large numbers of kids!

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