Artist in Residence

by Narelda Joy

I was approached by Yolla District School to do something different for Book Week 2021 – a wall frieze in collage, based on this year’s theme “Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds”. It was my third year at Yolla for Book Week. I have previously done design games, flying puppets, and given talks about what I do. I like to inspire kids to create, to teach them new things, to encourage them to make things by hand, and to show them that creativity can be a career.

The wall frieze is now on permanent display in the school. What a great opportunity for the kids to be part of something special, a legacy that they can be proud of. Collage is my favourite medium to work in, especially 3D collage, but I hadn’t worked on something this big before – an enormous 1.2 x 2.4 metres!

It took weeks of preparation! I needed to design something suitable for the different age groups to work on. I spent many nights tearing up bits of fabric and colour washing papers, which I then dried in front of the fireplace, for the collage background. Then many more hours choosing paper colours and preparing kits for each child in the younger years.

Year 1/2 worked on the background, the foundation of the piece, and they were terrific! They listened carefully to my instructions and lay the pieces down within all the right areas. Year 4/5 made collaged “Other World” characters to fly around the sky in the background in pastel colours. Year 5/6 made collaged “New World” items such as buildings, appliances, and such, in bright papers and prints.

The older students, from Y7 to Y9, spent more time outside Book Week in several afternoon sessions to learn 3D collage, and produced spectacular “Old World” pieces. They learnt how to colour papers to give an old world feel, as well as how to make things “pop”. They also learnt to work together in the same colour palette to achieve a cohesive look. I’m thrilled with the results, and with their enthusiasm!

I remember Book Week as a child. One year I won both the book poster competition and the book parade! I was dressed as Dr Who, with my neighbour as a Dalek – in a cardboard washing machine box sprayed with silver, a plastic dome on the top, and a sink plunger sticking out the front! My poster was a painting of cherry blossom tree branches as the theme was “Branching out with Books”. It was so exciting winning a prize and getting to choose a brand new book. I chose a book on model making which I treasured for years! The fact that my memory of the event is so strong shows me what a positive impact Book Week can have on children. I hope the Yolla children also have fond memories of Book Week when they grow up.