16-24 NOVEMBER 2019


Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
4th Floor, WM Building, St Paul Street, Auckland

Body Matter is the 2nd annual exhibition of children’s artworks that have emerged from the art-oriented activities and experiences of a group of artists, teachers and educators who work with children in different early childhood settings, primary or intermediate schools, in and around Auckland – and beyond.

This exhibition is curated by members of the Artists in Education Collective Aotearoa (AiECA), the current group of artists, teachers and educators who make up this collective:

Cathlin Ward-Michell
Aya Yamashita
Emma Thomsen
Karen Turner
with Janita Craw and Ophelia King

This year the early childhood centres and schools involved are: New Windsor Primary; Te Atatu Peninsula Intermediate; Epsom Normal Primary School; Tots Corner Childcare; and Whangaparaoa College.

This exhibition is accompanied by a schedule of Squiggla workshops, an opportunity for all to learn to work with a digital app designed for you to take a moment or two, and make art-full marks in response to the different contexts you find yourself in.

While the previous and 1st annual exhibition constructed and curated by this collective was contextualized within a gallery context, this year’s exhibition is held within an ‘art school’ context. Matters and complicity of context are well noted for their problematics, yet context provides meaning to all human endeavours. Hence, contextualizing this exhibition of children’s art makings within a university ‘art school’ context invites all those involved to consider the ‘value’ of art, of child art, of pedagogy, of an education in, with and through art. And. in particular, the important and various roles that art and artists, the audiences, play in the everyday lives of our youngest citizens. In turn, this creates opportunities to explore the important contributions that children, their engagements with art, with artists, with education, offer a democratic society?

The title to of this exhibition, Body Matter, came about as an open provocation that emerged at the beginning of this component of an ongoing art and education exhibition making project – the initial provocation suggested that whatever emerged would centre on, in and around the work of the body. This provocation is premised on an idea that the body, our bodies, is a complex form that both children and adults are curious about, and have a vested interest in. Art educator Richard Huerta suggests, that in educational settings children most often “learn about our body from a physiological perspective …teachers speak to the students of their bodies as if they were not really. Truth is that: our body accompanies us always”. Yet the body is an important medium with which we make art, its physical manifestation, its capabilities and its corporeality often inform art practices. In turn, our interest in the physical and/or other manifestations of art in education, our pursuit in exploring art’s capabilities and its corporeality to inform – and challenge - contemporary educational practices, remains at the heart of this project.

Thinking this way, that way, about the body, about art, about our art making bodies, as something real, that is, as matter, and as something that matters in education, remains a catalyst for the project. In time, this opened up spaces for thinking metaphorically about ourselves, the children, the places and things we work with, as a group, a collective i.e. a body – a complex body, without organs? As such, Body Matter is an exhibition that brings together, it materialises and makes matter the work of a diverse group, a network of people who identify as artists, as children, as teachers and educators. This body of people, their work, have come together, in one way or another, because of a shared interest, a knowledge of, a love of art, as well as an interest in making visible the work we do with art, with our bodies, in different educational settings.

The body of works

Rm 19, New Windsor Primary
with Anya Henis and Jeena Shin

For our second art project with Jeena Shin this year, year 3 and 4 students in Rm 19 are considering the notion of an art gallery; what goes there, who goes there and where it goes.

The students are creating artworks exploring signature, shape and object in their classroom, then travelling to the exhibition to install their works together as a body of work.

Young Children, Tots Corner Childcare
with Emma Thomsen

In collaboration with teachers and young children from Ōtara to Whangaparaoa, four canvases were circulated to pierce the boundaries of twelve closely knit early learning communities. This created opportunities for our young children to encounter the thinking of their peers over a larger geography.

Exhibiting this work in specifically designated art and exhibition making spaces accentuates young children’s capabilities and the macro political empowerment they enact through shared artistic dialogue. The work invites its audiences to be drawn into, enveloped by and seen within, the continuing conversation of citizenship in Tāmaki Makaurau.

Year 7 and 8, Te Atatu Peninsula Intermediate
with Cathlin Ward-Michell

The hardest part about being an intermediate school Visual Art teacher? The strange balance that seems to need to be struck between how I thought I would teach Art to 11 and 12 year olds, 11 and 12 year olds expectations of art and what constitutes a worthy art work - where these expectations come from and the gap that I sometimes feel exists between art education and real world art practice. This gap is a view into a dichotomy.

The problems of traditional education thrown into light by the wonderful and inherent potentials of art.

Rm 26, Epsom Normal Primary School
with Aya Yamashita

What is your favourite way of using your body? Roll... jump... kick... stretch... Our ‘Exercise Ball’ invites you to explore what your bodies are capable of, and think about the feelings you get when using bodies in certain ways.

‘Exercise Ball’ was created out of excess school materials. The students formed this artwork by scrunching, pressing, taping, layering, rolling, fighting, throwing and conversing.

Year 7, Whangaparaoa College
with Karen Turner.

Being creative involves thinking outside the box. But how do you do that? Making artworks with Squiggla offered everyone in our class a non-judgemental mark making exercise involving the use of visual language, of dots and lines, opening up possibilities for being inventive and creative – for being art-istic - using the body, the hand, the eye, and the mind.

The learners experimented inside/outside the classroom in ways they'd never done before – inventing new ways of making. As the project unfolded, the idea of making ‘art’ and ‘exhibition’ challenged us to think outside the box, to literally exhibit the Squiggla works on the outside of boxes, creating our own Squiggla Space.