Moral Mural Effect
26 Apr 2023
From the outset it was important to transform the use of a traditional school amenity. Activating student agency to create, design and paint their vision was critical in enabling my students to reconceptualise the use of this school space. As Principal of a metropolitan high school located within kilometres of Brisbane CBD, the outlook of buildings is very traditional and representative of a 1960 era. Students have often referenced their concerns about the outlook of these traditional amenities, providing feedback that they were outdated, dim and in need of renovation. Through proactive student consultation, it was clear simple paint and selective updates could be made, however it was critically important to enable these students to engage differently with these spaces, increase their ownership and provide a new perspective with this essential physical space at school.
In thinking how many cityscape areas had been transformed through the use of collaborative mural designs and often fluid or contemporary art, it was important to reconceptualise how the use of colour, patterns and design may work to transform this traditional space. Including students in the co-design and preposition of the amenity was vital. In reviewing feedback, I decided to engage with the Queensland College of Art affiliated with Griffith University to infuse a student led and facilitated co-design project between university and interested high school students with a passion for art.
While this project could be considered the co-design of a mural, enabling my students to express their visual perspective on building walls and interior bathroom facilities at Yeronga State High School. This collaborative co-design project was facilitated by Dr Simon Degroot, Creative Director, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and supported through a series of visual art workshops, taking inspiration from the surrounding landscape and built environment. Students collected raw materials from the school grounds, learnt to plan and pattern their visual representation and work on a design that would appeal to their peers. After a series of capability workshops focusing on design, patterns and colour, Queensland College of Art students worked further to transform these raw material and student designs from these workshops into the final artwork design. Dr Simon Degroot highlights, constructing vibrant and dynamic teaching environments can foster learning and engagement. Through collaboration we can transform spaces into places that are welcoming and inclusive and where students feel a sense of ownership and agency in their own learning.
From the outset, my students were excited and reflected on the opportunity to connect and collaborate with university students. They were more than inspired, and during the progressive workshop’s students were asking questions about art and design courses at university, and also identified the level of professional connectivity to the range of pathways available to them post school. Students were very positive about the experience, and felt more connected to the amenity as they have a level of ownership in constructing this mural.
This was much more than a school mural; this collaborative co-design has improved the sense of connection and community for these students to an otherwise necessary facility they use each day at school. I am looking forward to enacting further design opportunities to co-design and transform learning spaces to meet the current and future needs of my students.
Article by: Timothy Barraud, Principal, Yeronga State high School