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Creatives in Schools - Tūrangawaewae Project 2024

With Henderson Valley School in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland NZ

Here's a step by step account of our creative process. I hope it's informative and useful!


Identifying the installation project: discussing location, audience, purpose, ideas, materials, composition, form and timeline. Children were encouraged to contribute their ideas but the overall installation plan was set by Mandy. These 9 year 6 children were identified by their teachers as self managing students with skills in drawing and an interest in participating in a project like this.


Discussing, responding to and exploring a New Zealand Aotearoa artist - Richard Killeen. Looking at his use of composition, symbols, space, form, shape, abstract colours, simple line, limited colour palette and scale. Discussing possible meanings of his paintings.


Getting experts in to talk about the history, geography, environment and flora and fauna of the Henderson Valley. Thank you Clem!

Exploring our school environment, observing closely, drawing and identifying

Exploring the local bush and Opanuku stream: Speaking to experts; learning about the flora and fauna and environment of the stream and bush; observing colour and texture; drawing

Recording, listing and grouping our findings. Talking about symbolism and how we could communicate and represent ideas using one simple symbol.


Drawing symbols on to card, outlining them with black ink, cutting them out. Thinking about and discussing composition, form, shape, balance and scale.

We had to send all of the drawings to Rollercoaster Design (in Kumeu, Auckland) to get transferred to vector drawings for the CNC routing on to plywood. We had to place each image upside down on black and photograph them.

It was so exciting to see the cool cutouts from our own drawings!

The cutouts had less variation in scale than our original drawings as it was hard for Rollercoaster to gauge scale from the photos.


Learning painting techniques and developing a limited colour palette, using the original cut out drawings as stencils.

Creating the composition again, this time also considering colour, contrast and line. Introducing acrylic paint pens for adding finer details.

Experimenting with composition of our chosen wall, in the Whare Nui foyer. The existing green walls informed our colour decisions.

Sealing/undercoating the tops and sides of our 6mm plywood cutouts

Arranging the sealed ply cutouts.


Using Resene Lumbersider testpots and adding line details using Molotow acrylic paint pens. Taking time and care and often applying more than 1 coat. It's an interior installation but this exterior paint will never fade or deteriorate. The children decided to add a small amount of pink and a different shade of blue to our colour palette.

Discussing and experimenting with composition, form, balance, space, scale and contrast in situ, using our wooden symbols.

I was so thrilled to see how confident the students were at the end of this project. They placed all of the symbols in the circle shape using heavy duty Velcro so we could make adjustments if necessary. I then drilled holes and nailed the symbols to the wall. Hopefully this artwork will remain here for many years!

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1 Comment

Hi mandy its me Bonnie rose from the Henderson Vally School art group thank you for teaching us being such a great teacher, teaching me thing i have never leant .big thank from every one Alexis/Miss Tiny tofu, Bonnie/Bubble, Alice/Alicopter, Kyle/Kylie, Carlos/Selena , Payton/Paycorn, Trissja/Triss, Rydah/Ry and Anika/barnica .We will all miss you and the last two tearm's have been great.Hope to see you again in the near futire .comment from Alexis you have been such a great teacher, teaching methods of different tips of way of paint you have made me look at art a different way thank you for every thing. comment from Alice i am so greatful how you helped me learn how to paint incredible because…

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