Showcasing our students’ creativity – the MHS Student Art Exhibition

Showcasing the creative work of our students is always a joy, and this year the MHS Student Art Exhibition delighted those who came to see the variety of work by students of Art, Visual Communication Design, Photography, and Media and performances by Drama students.

We were honoured to have as Guest Speaker this year Richard Roberts, an internationally acclaimed and sought-after stage designer. He has designed for drama, dance, film, television and opera. Alongside his practice as a designer, he established the design programme at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (1991- 96), was Head of the School of Production at the Victorian College of the Arts (2000-07) and most recently, Head of Design at The Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts (2013-15). Most recently he has designed a new production of Fiddler on the Roof for TML, The Last Man Standing for The Melbourne Theatre Company, Rigoletto and Don Pasquale for Opera Australia and Glengarry Glen Ross for Black Swan Theatre Company. He is currently designing Much Ado About Nothing for Queensland Theatre Company and Caucasian Chalk Circle for Black Swan Theatre Company He is the recipient of four Greenroom Awards. He won best design for Drama in 1998 for Stolen (Playbox Theatre Company), and in 2000 for Life After George (Melbourne Theatre Company) and best design in Dance in 2001 for Requiem (The Australian Ballet) and in 2004 for Molto Vivace (The Australian Ballet).

The Visual and Performing Arts studies give students the opportunity to develop skills and mindsets beyond the created work itself.

As Art educator Clara Lieu points out in her excellent article, Should we protect Arts education, “…  it doesn’t matter whether a student in my class becomes a professional artist or not. In fact, it is perhaps the students who go into other fields for whom my art class could have the greatest impact. Innovation happens when someone is willing to take a risk and try something out of the norm. Art class is the ideal environment to take risks: there are literally no answers at the back of the textbook, and so much of the creative process can be simply trial and error.  In visual arts, you have to facilitate your own path, and be willing to give anything a shot.”

Guest speaker, Richard Roberts, reminded us that creativity is not about whether you were ‘born creative’ but it’s about making things, creating something that previously didn’t exist. In this sense, the work displayed in the Art Show is a visualisation of the ideas and processes taking place in students’ minds. Richard believes that everyone has the potential to be creative but sadly we are often limited by categorisations which rank us as creative or not creative.  It is important to give young people the opportunity to spend time working through creative processes, and also to exhibit the resulting work.

The following is just a snapshot of what was displayed in the Art Show this year. As I look at the work each year and take in the names of students, I discover aspects of the students, their thinking and expression, that I had previously not known. We should be grateful to the Arts for this opportunity, and support events such as the Art Show, music concerts, Drama performances, etc., which showcase what our students are capable of.


The old light box camera!




Year 9s create fantastic art using SCAMPER technique

Higher order thinking in Art? Not a problem. Working through process? Always.

Take a look at Year 9s art as they work through the SCAMPER technique with Mihaela Brysha.



Year 9s  have been producing beautiful work. More in a future post.






New for Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design – MHS library Libguides

We have lots of new resources in our Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design digital library – our Libguides.

On the Visual Communication Design page, look for the tabs at the top: Australian designers and design companies, Berlin designers/illustrators, European designers/illustrators, UK designers/illustrators, US designers/illustrators, and design agencies and organisations. All of these resources are new – I think you’ll love them because they are full of young, creative people and examples of the work, with links to how you can follow them on social media, eg Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Twitter and other places. The beauty of the follow is that all the wonderful, new work comes to you in your feed and you’ll have daily inspiration to draw from. The diversity amongst the artists is amazing – in fact, you’ll be overwhelmed it (in a good way).

I’ll leave you with a few examples:

From the Berlin designers/illustrators page: Maria Bustamante (aka notflipper)




From the European designers/illustrators page: French artist Koralie. You can follow her on TumblrFacebook and on this website.


On the UK designers/illustrators pageJack Sachs is a London based 3D animator and illustrator.Read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Nicolas Menard is a French Canadian graphic artist working and living in London. He makes drawings, prints, animations, books and interactive. Follow him on Vimeo,on tumblr, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

On the US designers/illustrators page, so far we have Ari Weinkle and you can follow Ari on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Under Australian designers and design companiesKindred Studio is the multi-disciplinary studio of Sydney based Illustrator, Designer and Art Director Andrew Fairclough. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter and Skillshare.

Benja Harney is a paper engineer. Follow him on Instagram. Benja is based in Sydney, Australia.

Also new in the Visual Arts libguides are most of the resources under the tab ‘For teachers’. There’s a lot of text here and so it doesn’t look very exciting but, believe me, if you take the time to explore the links you will not be disappointed. For example, in the box ‘general resources for teachers‘, I would recommend having a good look at Deon Van Dorp’s website. I met Deon in the High School Art Teachers Facebook group – a private group so if you want to join, just ask and wait to be approved. Deon is one of many art teachers sharing their expertise and student work examples here. Have a good dig around on Deon’s website, under all the tabs. For example, under the ‘More’ tab at the top, you will find Deon sharing the processes he goes through with students and examples of student work. Deon includes detailed descriptions of tools, techniques and shows the progress of student work from start to finish.

Also under the ‘More’ tab are examples of student visual diaries. There is lots of student work organised by year level throughout the website.

Flickr is another amazing resource for examples of art work including student work. I have a selection of these in the Visual Arts libguide (for teachers) under ‘student art work on Flickr’, for example, Monks Dyke Tennyson College, Lincolnshire. Don’t forget to select ‘albums’ when on Flickr to see different projects. There are many examples of student sketchbooks/folios, such as this one. I can’t share any images here because the permissions are restricted but you can still look.

On the same libguides page under the tab ‘for teachers’ there is a big selection of art teacher websites with examples of work. Developing Nicely by Chris Francis, UK Art teacher and Senior Leader at St Peter’s Catholic School, Bournemouth, England. The blog contains thought-provoking articles that are illustrated with creative, contemporary student artwork.

Ms King’s AP Studio Art Class This blog contains activities cover perspective, line drawing, the depiction of glass and metal objects, working in monochrome, figure drawing and still life arrangements.

InThinking Visual Arts is a website for International Baccalaureate Art teachers written by Heather McReynolds, who has over 20 years of teaching and examining experience. Heather was previously Head of Art at the International School of Florence and now offers training and workshops for IB Art teachers, writes textbooks and shares knowledge via the InThinking Visual Arts website. Although this site is subscription based, there is enough free content to keep you busy for hours. For example, you can read an interesting article on attitudes to beauty.

Fortismere Art Department has lots of useful things under the tab ‘student area’ including ‘practical support’ (for photography, painting, film and more)  and ‘web tools’, such as photo- and video-sharing, and also under the ‘student area’ tab, under ‘research support’ there is ‘research and analysis‘, ‘creative thinking’ and resources for photography genres eg portraiture.

Also helpful on this page is the box with tips from a high achieving art student.

I’ve also made a start on resources for students under the tab of the same name.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming navigating your way through our online resources so I hope it was useful for me to highlight a few of our newly created areas. Enjoy!







Drawing on the furniture – update

The art building furniture project is coming along nicely. Well done, year 10s. It’s amazing considering the students’ tools are textas. Some are experimenting with using textas like they might use paint. The thinking behind the choice of subject matter is interesting, for example, one chair which has natural forms and soft, smudged colours on one side and mechanical drawings in black texta on the other. I wonder what Dali thinks of all this?


Drawing on the furniture – Year 10 Art project

What if we combined creativity with functionality? Make that a collaborative project, mix it up with different drawings styles, themes and concepts, and apply to IKEA furniture. This what Ms Brysha’s year 10 Art students are up to. They are creating furniture for the empty foyer of the art building.

Take a look at the work in progress –

This is a small, low, round table.

More tables

How much more kinaesthetic can you get?

Going from drawing to chair. The students tell me it’s tricky drawing on the vertical, sometimes rounded, surface.

Experimenting with textas to create a painterly effect.

A bit of mechanics amongst the botanical themes.

How could you sit on this?

I can’t wait to see this colourful furniture transform the empty space in the Art building!

Our year 9s workshop with Mark Wilson – endangered species, Vietnam war, comics and looking for the shapes in things

Mark Wilson visited our year 9s today. His most recent book, Beth: the story of a child convict, has almost sold out even though it isn’t officially released until May 30.

Mark kept 2 classes of year 9 transfixed talking about his 2 main interests – our natural environment and endangered species, and his experiences of the Vietnam war. The combination of his passion and talent for storytelling was followed by a hands-on workshop where he focused on identifying shapes in things as a drawing tool. Mark fired drawing prompts at the boys while he demonstrated how it was done on the whiteboard.

“It’s all about movement”. – Mark Wilson (who grew up on comics and learned by studying how comics were drawn.

Thank you, Mark, for a very entertaining, informative and inspiring session which I’m sure our boys will remember for a long time. Whether in terms of awareness of our environment or endangered species, issues associated with war, or drawing techniques, our students’ understanding and appreciation for these things has been broadened. Thank you to Marie for organising the workshop, and to Suelyn and Mihaela for their support. It was also great to have the opportunity to collaborate with Stonnington Libraries.

Melbourne High School Art Show 2015

This year’s Art Show has been stunning and showcases the broad range of talent amongst a large cohort. The Visual and Performing Arts have a fabulous staff whose passion and teaching expertise bring the best out in a cohort often otherwise engaged in Maths and the Sciences. The importance of the Arts in education is often overlooked with a short-sighted perception of the Arts as irrelevant to those whose careers will be in other disciplines. In fact, through the process of art making and problem solving, of creative solutions and playful ‘what ifs’, students develop transferable skills and behaviours – important 21st century skills which they will need in the world of their uncertain futures.

Charles Leadbeater, in his book Learning to make a difference: school as a creative community, says that

Education should equip young people to shape
an uncertain future so they can live more successful
lives, on their own terms and together.

The real core curriculum of education should equip young people to:

  • Make something, whether that is a model, a play, a piece of music, an argument, which makes a difference to them, their relationships and the community they are a part of as they seek to solve these challenges.
  • Have the confidence to act creatively even in the face of uncertainty, without having to know every detail in advance.
  • Develop the desire, capacity and confidence to be a contributor to solving problems, however large or small.
  • Acquire the traits of character, especially persistence, grit and determination to overcome the myriad obstacles that will stand in their way.

School should be a creative community with a cause, a place where children
go to:
• Explore, create, make, try things out and learn from their mistakes and recover from their setbacks.

The Art Show is a showcase of all 9-10 students’ work and that of VCE students studying Studio Arts, Visual Communication and Design, Photography (elective) and Theatre Studies. Individual works of art and performances are impressive on their own, but how powerful is the collective display!

Whilst school is largely about abstract learning, the Arts provide an opportunity to make and perform.

And now for a glimpse into the exhibition.

Big Penguin and Panda come to visit our library

The multi-talented Sam Bi has kindly allowed his giant 3D paper origami animal figures, Penguin and Panda, to visit our library. They are nice and comfy on our shelves in the front of the library if you would like to come and see them.

Sam created them these beautiful paper sculptures with many, many small origami pieces. I can’t imagine how long it would have taken him!