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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Fostering Connections with Community

On Friday, February 14th Christine, Risini (Chamodhi's lovely mum) and I guided a group of our tamariki through the Whangarei Sculpture Symposium, held in our local Art Park at the Town Basin. 

The Sculpture Symposium is a unique event held in Northland, which is attended by local and national artists. This year the attending artists were invited to create wood or stone forms that relate to important local influences: either physical, natural or historical. 

Opportunities to observe and engage with artists and their work enable children to be immersed in a quality cultural experience. 

 Jane Appleby explains a Quality Cultural Experience as something which arouses curiosity, stimulates interest, taps into the senses and challenges your thinking (The Ark). 

When observing new art forms and the skills needed to create them, children are deepening their understanding of art processes and the possibilities of materials.


Prior to attending the symposium, we gathered the group of attending children to discuss the idea of ‘sculptures’; our intention was to develop an awareness of their current knowledge, understandings and curiosities.

First we inquired about what sculptures are: 

"They are artwork" 
"Sculpture is like a statue" 
"Sculpture is something that is carved out of rock"
"Ice, you can make a sculpture from Ice, my dad did" 

We also discussed how artists might shape sculpture, and what we could do whilst at the Art Park:

"I think they cut it with a knife"
"Perhaps an axe?"
"You use a piece of wood and you bang it so all the pieces come out and you can shape it"
"When we get there we can talk about how the people make those things"

Active involvement in learning builds children’s understandings of concepts and the creative thinking and inquiry processes that are necessary for lifelong learning. They can challenge and extend their own thinking, and that of others, and create new knowledge in collaborative interactions and negotiations. Children’s active involvement changes what they know, can do, value and transforms their learning (The Early Years Framework).

Armed with clipboards, cameras, paint and loads of enthusiasm and anticipation, we arrived early at the Art Park to engage in some investigation. As Friday was the day before the auction, most of the artists were creating the final flourishes to their work; the Art Park was humming with activity!

Following the lead of the children, we ambled slowly around the roped areas of the participating artists, stopping to observe new art form and skills, discover materials, chat with the artists, and engage in some observational drawing.

The work of artists offers food for thought and for the imagination. Like other expressive languages, the visual language is a gift that belongs to every man and woman right from birth; it evolves and is nurtured by favourable cultural contexts (Children, Art, Artists, 2008).

The children observed that sculpture could be created out of many different resources. Rock can be white and chalky (Oamaru stone), smooth on your cheeks (basalt), pitted with holes (Hikurangi stone) or shiny (marble). Wood can be carved with chainsaws, axes and chisels and blackened with fire. They noticed that men and woman create sculpture and that collaboration helps to get the job done.

In our work with children we seek to foster links with community, which provide opportunities to be inspired and have creative experiences. Observing artists be masterful in their work affords children with a legacy of know-how, it celebrates success and strengthens their awareness of their local environment.

"I love just looking at all the sculptures" Kate 

"Can we come here everyday and see this, I just love it!" Mason

Te toi whakairo, ka ihiihi, ka wehiwehi, ka aweawe te ao katoa.
Artistic excellence makes the world sit up in wonder.

Nga mihi

Some of these beautiful photographs were taken by ex kindergarten mum and practicing artist Chris Schreuder. If you would like to see more of Chris' photographs check out The Whangarei Sculpture Symposium page on Facebook.

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