We have certainly experienced some of the amazing contrasts our country to offer recently in terms of natural disasters. It was with this in mind when I planned a series of lessons in my Art classes earlier this year for my level 3 and 4 students.
Dorothea Mackellar's poem which many Aussies fondly know includes the following phrases:
I love sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons.
I love her jewelled sea.
Her beauty and her terror,
The wide brown land for me.This is part of the poem which was written by Mackellar as a young homesick woman living away from her homeland and was written around a hundred years ago. I felt it fitted well into my lessons about the environment as discussions challenged the students to think about our part in climate change, the importance of caring for pristine environments and the fragility of biodiversity.
As an art teacher, I loved the way the students talked about the environment using artists' language describing colour, texture, tone, shapes, distortion, exaggageration, pattern, repetition etc. In small groups, students were given a phrase from the poem and they worked together to brainstorm what their phrase meant. They all recorded their ideas and explorations on a large piece of paper. They then created mini artworks which they would present together on a background also reflecting their phrase.