The Clay Pans Project: Developing methodologies that address  the national curriculum priorities.

Year: 2012

Author: Fernandes-Satar, Audrey

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Many have argued that Art Education benefits from collaborations between artists and teachers, that this collaboration can enhance students experiences, by pushing the boundaries of 'traditional' visual art teaching and opening up new forms of practice and pedagogy.

In this paper I will discuss the Clay Pans project, created on the mud flats  of Cossack, Roebourne, in the North West of Western Australia to demonstrate ways of addressing  the three main priorities of the new Australian Curriculum, which have been identified as Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander histories and cultures, Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia and Sustainability.

Here, I explore the notion of Dialogic  Art forms or art that reconfigures the discourse of aesthetics, art that links the social to the conceptual, art that grounds place and history, 'art that instigates conversation in the social realm, has strong ethical, political and aesthetic frameworks' (Spencer, 2009 p.5). Whilst my initial focus is on the Arts, the framework developed for the Clay Pans Project is equally relevant to all key learning areas.

The Clay Pans Project was developed as a large-scale installation with a strong link to art education methodologies. This was a collaboration between Ngarluma Elders who are the traditional custodians of the land, teachers, artists and four hundred and fifty primary and secondary students. This collaboration resulted in the creation of an ephemeral installation that spanned one kilometer across the mud flats.

This project explored innovative ways of teaching and learning whilst addressing issues of inclusion and diversity, thus enhancing student's experiences of the role of arts in society. Most importantly students gained a deeper understanding of the significance of Ngarluma culture and history.