Creativity has filled the hallways and classrooms of St Joseph’s Albion Park with a special enthusiasm over the past month – music, singing, art, design, photography, drama, dance and more, all to celebrate ARTSTOBER and showcase some of the wonderful creative and artistic opportunities available at the school.
The initiative aims to increase awareness of the diversity and depth of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) offerings at Joey’s and invite students to try and explore the arts – maybe even encouraging them to engage in such pursuits as part of their studies or extra-curricular endeavours at school.
Creative and Performing Arts Coordinator, Danielle Oliver, said students have participated in an exciting mix activities over the past few weeks, including events, competitions, performances, visiting musicians, and workshops from professional artists – a fresh approach giving students a fun, creative and energised feel to the start of Term 4.
“ARTSTOBER has been a vibrant focus on the arts at St Joseph's. It was initiated with a view to widening experiences and accessibility to the arts for the whole school community. It’s given all students and staff an opportunity to take part in a variety of CAPA activities and projects, which promote participation, wellbeing and an awareness of a wider range of arts engagement” — Danielle Oliver, Creative and Performing Arts Coordinator, St Joseph’s Albion Park
“Students have gained insights into a variety of artistic practices, including the development of dramatic performances, musical acts, commissioned artworks and site-specific installations. They’ve also seen ways that repurposing and reclaiming materials can give life to new projects in the arts,” Ms Oliver said.
Creative skills and imagination have also been on display with open mic and musical instrument jam sessions at lunchtimes for students to perform; art classes to explore different creative methods; and open rehearsals for students to watch and gain a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective into dramatic performances. Competitions have also been a feature, with ‘Guess the Bell’ and ‘Who Am I?’ games as well as a popular ‘Daily Drawing Challenge' to win prizes.
Students have embraced the opportunities with a spirit of positivity, exuberance and a ‘give it a go’ attitude – from seasoned arts students appreciating the benefit of extra practice performing, to those willing to try something new for the first time and delighting in a new experience, to the many who were supporting and cheering on the impressive talent on display.
The celebrations kicked off with the school’s junior Visual Arts students benefiting from a fantastic discussion and advice from talented local Aboriginal artist, Uncle Kevin Butler. The students were thrilled to gain an insight into his work, ideas and materials practice, including learning more about the Spirit of Windang Island, painted in a large mural recently installed at the school.
"We thought the work by Uncle Kevin had such an inspiring story. We liked the symbolism of the story about our local Windang Island. It was great to also see him working on artworks for a series of large poles for Joey's that represent the rules of our school – respect for ‘Self, Others, Learning and the Environment’ (SOLE)" — Sierra and Alexandra, Year 7 students, St Joseph’s Albion Park
A further highlight was the number of staff members’ creative arts talents that were revealed throughout the week – from the gifted guitar offerings of Mr Glenn Whitehall who performed for students in the school COLA during breaks, to the serendipitous group of staff coming together for a special lunchtime jam session – Mrs Amanda Nascimento on the piano, Mr Zac Ellul on the drums, Mr Bryan Ie on the electric guitar, and Mr Heath Dennelly and Mr Jean-Claude Seedoyal on guitar and vocals.
Another valuable experience for the students was hosting an ‘Artist in Residence’ at Joey's for a week. A professional artist specialising in painting, illustration, sculpting, fabrics and fashion design, Karolina Venter brought her practices into the Joey's art spaces for a number of students to enjoy and learn from over several days. During her time at the school, she held presentations and workshops with Visual Arts students, helping them gain greater understanding of her artistic practices and materials processes, and even guiding them through having a go themselves.
Students from Years 8, 9 and 10 Visual Arts particularly enjoyed taking part in Venter’s weaving class, constructing woven forms of found and repurposed materials. These were then displayed as a hanging feature along the school’s entry walkway. Venter also worked with a range of staff and students to develop a large site-specific fibre-based installation at the front of the school, revealed to the Joey's community at the end of her residency week.
"During ARTSTOBER, I was fortunate to be part of a group of students who completed a collective art project led by our Artist in Residence, Karolina Venter. She taught us the process of weaving and how to repurpose old fabrics to create hanging macramé textiles. I found the experience very enriching, as it taught us how to turn something very basic that may have even ended up in landfill, into a really beautiful work of art" — Claudia-Lorraine, Year 10 student, St Joseph’s Albion Park
Meanwhile, a surprise visit from Australian country music singer-songwriter, Amber Lawrence, had students and staff engaged in a lunchtime of fun singing and dancing. The Golden Guitar Award winner visited Joey's for an exclusive mini-gig, performing a number of her songs about self-belief, empowerment, love and family, including her notable anti-bullying track, ‘Cheers to the Girls’.
And the fun isn’t quite over yet – next week, a group of invited students will also attend an 'Art and Spirituality Workshop Day' at Jamberoo Abbey. This will see students attend a talk in the morning from Sr Veronica Chandler and a painting session to explore ideas about the land and its place in the school’s and students’ spiritual journey.
Mrs Oliver said she was very pleased with the school community engagement and participation in this year’s ARTSTOBER celebrations; and with the likes of St Joseph’s alumni such as international actress and comedy writer, Christina Paterno; rising musical theatre star and performer extraordinaire, Ryan Gonzalez; Australian line dancer and award-winning choreographer, Maddison Glover; dancer and performer, Mitchell Roach; and cabaret artist and presenter, Amelia Ryan, it’s not hard to see the wealth of creative arts opportunity and talent on offer to help foster all kinds of CAPA student success at Joey’s!
St Joseph’s Albion Park offers a broad spectrum of learning in the arts via the Creative and Performing Arts curriculum, as well as many extra-curricular activities and events for students to take part in, such as: the Annual School Musical; St Joseph’s Day Concert and talent quest; Years 9 and 10 Mini Showcase; Stage 6 Performance Night; Annual School Open Day; School Choir; Card Art Club; guitar group tuition; after-hours CAPA student support; visits to galleries, concerts, events and workshops; and incursions with expert groups and individuals for enrichment.
For more information on the Creative and Performing Arts opportunities on offer for students at St Joseph’s, please contact CAPA Coordinator, Danielle Oliver, on firstname.lastname@example.org