Exploring new ways

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ARTKIDS was an exciting and creative partnership project between Penrith City Council’s Children’s Services and Community and Cultural Development Departments.

The Artkids Story

As part of implementing the curriculum goals within the Early Years Learning Framework, staff in several children’s centres identified that providing opportunities for children to explore their creativity would contribute to their cognitive development and artistic literacy.

Through our joint discussions we explored the possibilities that art can offer children and pooled resources to employ two local professional artists to take the children on this journey of creating and exploring art. The project took place over eight weeks during August and September 2011 and involved workshops with children aged three to five years in four Council centres - Cook Parade, Gumbirra, Koala Corner and St Marys Children’s Centre, as well as North St Marys Community Preschool.

A variety of art media were explored from clay work to painting, wool sculpture, drawing and print making. Each child had the opportunity to make art pieces and in some instances take those pieces through a two stage process. For example many children were surprised that the clay became hard when it dried and enjoyed painting their creations to add colour to what they had made.

The artists encouraged the children to explore their creativity through different media.The children enjoyed the fun in this project and surprised us all with their enthusiasm, joy and willingness to explore new media in their creative expression. Many children looked forward to their mornings with the artists Chris Edwards and Fabri Blacklock, and David Cloran the photographer and the wonderful conversations about the art they created, highlighting the success of ARTKIDS.

The ARTKIDS project demonstrates to us that children can produce art that is real and has meaning for them. They are capable of great creativity and we hope to continue to inspire children in Penrith City to produce wonderful art for all to enjoy. The many works produced by the children were exhibited at St Marys Corner Community and Cultural Precinct, in individual children’s centres and at Penrith Library.

"HEY! I MADE A ..." 

"Hey! I made a..."

Children’s joyful expression bubbling through this documentation is quite powerful. Beyond telling us mere facts - whether they had made a dinosaur, a robot or a beautiful arrangement of colours - underlying the children’s work is utter delight in making something.

To make something that didn’t exist before, something with meaning, something made with their hands: this is the transformative power of art making. A power that young children are abundantly capable of enjoying and exploring in a myriad ways. For them, art is not something separate but part of everyday life, a way of making sense of themselves and their world.

This innovative pilot project encourages us to see young children as creative thinkers and explorers, eager to give shape to their thoughts and share ideas. These explorers deserve sensitive encouragement and support. This has always been an important message in early childhood education. It is even more timely today.

In a world of consumerism and constant electronic entertainment, a project such as this that celebrates children’s experiences with basic materials - materials that invite them to create, invent, and imagine new possibilities - adds a new dimension to early childhood learning.

In furthering community understanding and appreciation of children as thinkers and communicators, ARTKIDS is an enriching and inspiring resource that deserves to grow.

Ursula Kolbe

Artist, author, early childhood art consultant



Exploring new ways

Artists have the ability to encourage people to think differently, to "think outside the box", freeing the mind to explore new ways of working and offering new possibilities.

Professional artists working with children can provide a learning environment that not only delivers benefits across all the curriculum areas but can also open doors for social interaction and the sense of pride in creating unique works of art.

Encouraging and supporting children to be creative thinkers throughout their lives can have a greater contribution to society and the economic world than you could imagine. These young people are the new generation of innovative thinkers, the leaders, the teachers, the designers, the artists and developers of new industries, technology, scientific and medical breakthroughs. Without the ability of creative thought these outcomes are impossible!

We believe these successful outcomes of this program will inspire the viewer to embrace the long-term goals for Penrith City to establish a Children’s Creative Art Space and the continuation of the Artists in Residence program.

Artkids - Children Creating and Exploring Art

Project Team

Participating Children’s Centres

Cook Parade Children’s Centre

Gumbirra Pre School Children’s Centre

North St Marys Community Pre School Centre

St Marys Pre School Centre

Koala Corner Children’s Centre

Participating artists

Fabri Blacklock and Chris Edwards

Wirriimbi Designs

Photographs by

David Cloran

Generous support to the project has been provided by the Community and Cultural

Development and Children’s Services Departments of Penrith City Council

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