A seed is a magical life force; a living embryo and time-capsule preserving things from the past for the new planet of future generations. Rhys Mills from Ngā Manu introduced the specialness of seeds to students at the Raumati South primary school as part of their work towards He Kākano - Seed exhibition, the sixth Mahara Gallery-Ngā Manu Nature Reserve children’s art and environment project.
The Mahara Gallery-Ngā Manu initiative aims to support and inspire children to engage directly with our natural environment, and reflect on that experience through art and poetry. The students explored three exhibitions at Mahara Gallery devoted to Matariki. With the central theme of renewal and the seasonal cycles of the natural world, fitting well with He Kākano. Back in the classroom, they then made their own creative responses supported by artist Michelle Backhouse, poet Mary-Jane Duffy and rap artist Dean Hapeta.
The students embraced the project with great enthusiasm and energy, resulting in some outstanding work being displayed at Mahara Gallery.
Lynley Gould, teacher at Raumati South School reflects on the student's journey:
Being involved with this project has reinforced the link between the environment and art for me. The time we spent at Ngā Manu was about engaging the students in an experiential learning context. It allowed the students to get close to nature through walking around the Ngā Manu grounds and provided the opportunity for personal experience via the seed planting activities we took part in. Viewing art work by professional artists and thinking about how they connect with nature through their works provided a base for our own artwork that followed back in class. Taking our learning outside the classroom provided the vivid personal experiences the students were then able to use in their visual art and poetry.
One really positive part of this experience has been listening to the students talk about the need to look after our environment. They have talked about the beautiful native birds at Ngā Manu and how it is their responsibility to make sure we always have an environment that provides for the birds. Students have confirmed that getting to see and hold the different types of seed pods helped them in their art. It opened them up to using different shapes, textures and colours.
This project has been an engaging context for learning and has helped further open our students senses to nature. The students were able to discover and then create their own meanings from the environment.