ATSI Artist in Schools

Ngarrindjeri Yanun

In 2016, Carclew embarked on an exciting new partnership with Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) to deliver the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artist Development Pilot.

The project commenced in term 3 2016, with CESA and Carclew engaging Ngarrindjeri artists Betty Sumner, Lena Rigney and Boandik artist Sonya Smith to work with St. Joseph’s Primary School Murray Bridge students and teachers. The artists introduced students to visual art mediums such as weaving, feathered flowers and performing arts through cultural songs and dreaming stories to make, create and learn about local Ngarrindjeri culture.

The pilot aims to:

  • establish a sustainable artist in residence program within school environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and cultural workers.
  • enable further opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to receive the training, professional development and essential knowledge required to empower the artists and give them the confidence to be able to go into a school, educational or organisational environment and facilitate cultural learning
  • contribute to a greater need for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to be able to actively engage with young people and educators about Aboriginal arts and culture in an educational context
  • increase the skills development and employability of Aboriginal artists
  • avoid the appropriation of culture that unintentionally occurs in school

The Artists in Residence model has proven to:

  • Enhance student learning in, through and about Aboriginal art, histories and culture.
  • Students gain different perspectives on what it means to be a professional artist, through meaningful opportunities to find out about the artist’s life and by seeing them in the context of the world they work.
  • Teachers and students to develop and build relationships within the wider Aboriginal community.
  • Students learn how artists gain inspiration from a variety of sources including their own experiences and environment, their culture, historical and contemporary sources.
  • Working with professional artists helps students to recognise that there is a process behind finished pieces of art and a career as a professional artist.

This joint initiative between CESA and Carclew has established stronger relationships between Aboriginal artists in their community, assisting educators in further developing their knowledge base and teaching capacity, contributing to CESA’s commitment to reconciliation in South Australia’s Catholic education system and providing a meaningful learning environment for students in Aboriginal art, histories and culture.

Carclew is currently exploring a model that can be developed and embedded in additional schools in South Australia. Interested schools should direct their enquiries to Beth Ashley-Ward: Manager, Arts Programs


Image banner: St Joseph’s year 5 students with Aunty Betty | Photo by Orana Studios


Contact Details

Beth Ashley-Ward: Manager, Arts Programs
Mon-Fri (Except Thursdays)
8267 5111